Bill Baer

DENVER, CO - SEPTEMBER 5:  Nolan Arenado #28 of the Colorado Rockies stands on deck in the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Coors Field on September 5, 2016 in Denver, Colorado.  (Photo by Bart Young/Getty Images)
Bart Young/Getty Images

Video: Nolan Arenado clubs a grand slam


Third baseman Nolan Arenado crept closer to the 40-homer plateau on Wednesday afternoon, belting a grand slam in the second inning off of Luke Weaver, boosting the Rockies’ lead to 6-1. It’s number 39 on the year for Arenado, who is also hitting .294 with a .935 OPS and 128 RBI. The grand slam was Arenado’s first of the season and the fourth of his career.

Here’s the video.

Arenado’s traditional stats are terrific, but when it comes to the National League Most Valuable Player Award race, he falls back a little bit when one accounts for his home ballpark. Coors Field, of course, is notorious for inflating Rockies’ players’ offensive stats as well as their pitchers’ ERA. Indeed, Arenado came into Wednesday with a 1.018 OPS at home and .832 away. That’s still great, he’s just not an otherworldly hitter in other ballparks.

Arenado’s OPS would be seventh-best in the National League, but his 125 wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created, adjusted for park factors) ranks 15th. He bumps back up in Wins Above Replacement, however, due to his superb defense. Only a handful of players have been better defensively at any position than Arenado has been at third.

Mike Trout has had another 10 WAR season

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 17:  Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim runs to first during the first  inning of a game against the Toronto Blue Jays at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 17, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Angels outfielder Mike Trout went 1-for-2 with a pair of walks on Tuesday night, ever so slightly nudging him up to an even 10.0 Wins Above Replacement on the season, according to Baseball Reference. He’s the first player to have a 10 WAR season since… Mike Trout in 2012. In this millennium, Trout (twice), Barry Bonds (three times), Sammy Sosa, and Alex Rodriguez are the only players to put up a 10 WAR season. And with the caveat that, the further back in time we look, the less reliable WAR becomes, Trout’s 2016 season is just the 56th 10 WAR season since 1901.

Everyone seems to be in agreement that Trout is the best player in baseball, but it feels like he’s going to finish second in American League Most Valuable Player Award voting for the fourth time in five years. As many have argued recently, Trout is boring.

Joe Posnanski examined this phenomenon, pointing out that Trout isn’t boring because he isn’t exciting to watch; he’s boring because he’s consistent. He averages about 9.5 WAR per season, so his excellence in 2016 is just “meh.” It’s like when you have one kid who’s a great student and another kid who isn’t and both aced their most recent tests. The worse student will get more adulation because expectations have been exceeded, not just met.

Mookie Betts is the only other player close to Trout in WAR, and he’s at 8.9. That’s an outstanding season and he doesn’t have a chance of matching Trout. That’s how good Trout has been. And he should be the unanimous choice for AL MVP, but he won’t — and he might not even win — because the Angels are bad and that is somehow his fault.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Wednesday’s action

PHOENIX, AZ - SEPTEMBER 16:  Starting pitcher Kenta Maeda #18 of the Los Angeles Dodgers pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the second inning of the MLB game at Chase Field on September 16, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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It’s almost the end of September, so everyone’s eyes are on the standings. Wednesday night will feature two games between division rivals: Red Sox/Orioles and Giants/Dodgers.

The Red Sox have taken the first two games of their four-game set against the Orioles at Camden Yards, widening their NL East lead to four games over the Blue Jays and five games over the Orioles, now in third place. Clay Buchholz, who has had a miserable 2016, will make the start tonight against Ubaldo Jimenez at 7:05 PM EDT. Buchholz returned to the rotation earlier this month and two of his three starts since have been solid. Jimenez has had a similar season as Buchholz: struggling, getting demoted to the bullpen, then returning to the rotation in strong fashion. In five starts since getting moved back into the Orioles’ starting rotation, Jimenez has a 3.28 ERA.

Meanwhile, the Giants and Dodgers have split the first two games of their three-game set. Matt Moore will toe the rubber tonight against Kenta Maeda at Dodger Stadium in a 10:10 PM EDT start. The Dodgers hold a five-game lead with 11 games left to play, so it’s a lead that seems safe.

Other games with playoff implications tonight: Braves/Mets, Royals/Indians, Yankees/Rays, Nationals/Marlins, Tigers/Twins, and Pirates/Brewers. Now’s a good time to get if you don’t have it already.

The rest of Wednesday’s action…

Boston Red Sox (Clay Buchholz) @ Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez), 7:05 PM EDT

Chicago White Sox (Chris Sale) @ Philadelphia Phillies (Jerad Eickhoff), 7:05 PM EDT

Atlanta Braves (Ryan Weber) @ New York Mets (Bartolo Colon), 7:10 PM EDT

Kansas City Royals (Ian Kennedy) @ Cleveland Indians (Corey Kluber), 7:10 PM EDT

New York Yankees (Masahiro Tanaka) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Alex Cobb), 7:10 PM EDT

Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer) @ Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler), 7:10 PM EDT

Cincinnati Reds (Robert Stephenson) @ Chicago Cubs (John Lackey), 8:05 PM EDT

Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver) @ Texas Rangers (Derek Holland), 8:05 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers (Buck Farmer) @ Minnesota Twins (Jose Berrios), 8:10 PM EDT

Pittsburgh Pirates (Chad Kuhl) @ Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson), 8:10 PM EDT

Arizona Diamondbacks (Zack Greinke) @ San Diego Padres (Luis Perdomo), 9:10 PM EDT

San Francisco Giants (Matt Moore) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Kenta Maeda), 10:10 PM EDT