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.

Astros push ALCS to Game 7 with 7-1 stunner against Yankees

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There’s just something about playing in your home ballpark. The Astros decimated the Yankees at Minute Maid Park on Friday, riding seven scoreless innings from Justin Verlander and a pair of big runs from Jose Altuve to win 7-1 and force a Game 7 in the American League Championship Series.

Through the first four innings, however, the teams looked equally matched. Luis Severino no-hit the Astros through 3 2/3 innings, losing his bid on Carlos Correa‘s line drive single in the fourth. The Astros returned in the fifth to do some real damage, drawing two walks and plating the first run of the night with Brian McCann‘s ground-rule double off of the right field wall. Things didn’t get any easier for Severino. Jose Altuve lined a two-RBI base hit into left field, upping Houston’s advantage to three runs.

Verlander, meanwhile, muted the Yankees’ offense with seven innings of five-hit, eight-strikeout ball. While he didn’t come close to matching his complete game effort in Game 2, he was still plenty dominant against a struggling New York lineup. No player reached past first base until the sixth inning, when a pair of base hits from Chase Headley and Didi Gregorius gave the Yankees their first runner in scoring position. That didn’t last long, though, as Gary Sanchez grounded out on a 3-0 slider to end the inning.

In the seventh, Houston’s ace got into another spot of trouble. He walked Greg Bird on six pitches to start the inning, then plunked Starlin Castro on the wrist. Aaron Hicks struck out, in part thanks to a questionable call by home plate umpire Jim Reynolds, but it was Todd Frazier who presented the biggest threat after returning an 0-1 fastball for a 403-foot fly out to left field. Luckily for Verlander, George Springer was there to bail him out with a leaping catch at the wall.

The Yankees kept things exciting in the eighth, too. Aaron Judge ripped his third postseason home run off of Brad Peacock, taking a 425-footer out to the train in left field to spoil the Astros’ shutout. That was the only real break the Yankees got, however, as Altuve, Alex Bregman and Evan Gattis returned in the bottom of the inning to tack on another four runs, including Altuve’s solo shot off of David Robertson:

Ken Giles handled the ninth, expending 23 pitches and giving up a base hit and a walk before retiring Frazier and Headley to end the game. Thanks to Houston’s winning efforts, the two teams will compete in their first seven-game Championship Series since 2004 — and this time, at least one of them is guaranteed to come away with a win.

Game 7 of the ALCS is set for Saturday at 8:00 PM ET. Houston right-hander Charlie Morton (14-7, 3.62 ERA) is scheduled to face southpaw CC Sabathia (14-5, 3.69 ERA).