Does St. Louis have the biggest homers in MVP voting?

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Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina finished in third place in the National League MVP voting, ever so slightly behind Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt in second place. Pirates center fielder and winner of the NL MVP Andrew McCutchen received 28 of 30 first-place votes; the remaining two were given to Molina by two St. Louis area writers: Rick Hummel and Derrick Goold, both of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. In fairness to Goold, he was very open about his thought process in arriving at his conclusion to place Molina first, even putting together a “matrix” comparing the various stats compiled by all of the contenders and joining Brian Kenny on Clubhouse Confidential to defend his ballot.

However, as Reuben Fischer-Baum of Deadspin shows, St. Louis has been the most homerish in MVP voting since balloting was made public prior to the 2012 festivities. Molina benefited from it not only with the two first-place votes, but also Hummel’s decision to list McCutchen third behind Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter.

It is worth reiterating, however, that we have had only two years and the Cardinals’s recent success does bias the sample. It could be the case that another city’s writers are bigger homers, we just don’t see it because the team they cover doesn’t have players in the mix for the MVP award, like the Cubs.

Rob Manfred says Tampa Bay must pick up pace on new stadium

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred wants Tampa Bay to work a little quicker on getting the Rays a new ballpark.

Rays Principal Owner Stuart Sternberg has been working for nearly a decade to get a new stadium for the club and signed a three-year agreement with the City of St. Petersburg early in 2016 to search for a site in the Tampa Bay area. Manfred wants that search to pick up some steam.

“I think it’s fair to say we want the process to take on a better pace moving forward,” Manfred said Wednesday night at Tropicana Field, home of the Rays since their first season in 1998.

The Rays were averaging 15,815 fans per game before Wednesday night’s contest against the Toronto Blue Jays. That is just over half the major league average of 30,470. Tropicana Field and its location have been almost universally blamed as the reason for the poor attendance.

“I’ve been pretty clear that they need a new facility here, a major league quality facility in an A-plus location,” Manfred said. “It is time to move that decision to the front burner here in Tampa.”

The matter of how a stadium would be financed has been tabled until a site is determined, but Sternberg continued to express confidence in the Tampa Bay market.

“I’ve had the opportunity to bail on it many times over the years,” he said. “I won’t say this is a slam dunk, it’s certainly not. But I think we can do something that’ll at least double our attendance. That’s a lot to ask for.”

Manfred said Major League Baseball “doesn’t have a firm timetable” for what steps to take if the Rays fail to get an agreement to build a new stadium in the Tampa Bay area, but but added that “it is a topic of discussion in the industry, the lack of progress.”

More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball

Robinson Cano leaves game with hamstring tightness

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Bad news for the Mariners this evening: Robinson Cano left Seattle’s game against the Atlanta Braves with tightness in his left hamstring.

Cano walked off the field after legging out a double — his second of the game — in the third inning. He pulled up as he approached second base and walked off the field, accompanied by a trainer. There was no immediate word on the severity of the injury. The Mariners have a day off Thursday before opening a series at the Yankees on Friday night, so they have some time to evaluate him.

Cano is hitting .277/.377/.460 with 19 homers and 78 RBI on the year.