Curt Schilling and Alex Cora pick Ryan Howard for NL MVP

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I’m not lying.

Thankfully, the rest made reasonable picks in Joey Votto (17 votes), Buster Posey and Bryce Harper (six), Ryan Braun and Justin Upton (three), Andrew McCutchen (two), and Matt Kemp, Jason Heyward and Giancarlo Stanton (one).

Ryan Howard is 33 years old and is still visibly limping from an Achilles injury that caused him to miss half of last season. He’s been average or better by Wins Above Replacement (2 or more WAR) in one of the last four seasons, according to Baseball Reference. He plays average defense if you’re being generous with your evaluation, and he’s one of baseball’s worst base runners. He would have to put up numbers reminiscent of his 2006 for him to even come close to sniffing votes for NL MVP.

Perhaps Schilling and Cora have been swayed by his .336 average, seven home runs, and 16 RBI in spring training, but if you bank that much on spring training stats, you would have had some serious egg on your face in 2011 with Jake Fox.

Though stranger things have happened.

Report: Astros, Michael Brantley agree to two-year, $32 million contract

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Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports that the Astros and outfielder Michael Brantley are closing in on an agreement for a two-year contract in the $32 million range.

Brantley, 31, played a mostly full season last year for the first time since 2015. He hit .309/.364/.468 with 17 home runs, 76 RBI, 89 runs scored, and 12 stolen bases in 631 plate appearances. He made the AL All-Star squad for the third time in his career.

Brantley’s health, though, is why he had to settle for a two-year deal as opposed to a longer contract for a player of his caliber. He will take over in left field. In the event Brantley succumbs to injury woes, the Astros have top prospect Kyle Tucker waiting in the wings.

Update: According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, who also reports that the deal is in place, the Astros plan to rotate Brantley between left field, first base, and DH. That opens up some more playing time for Tucker.