Could a Cardinal not named Yadier Molina win the MVP?

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The NL MVP race doesn’t have a consensus candidate, really. I feel like, among the chattering classes, Andrew McCutchen and Yadier Molina have the most juice behind them. But Paul Goldschmidt has his backers. Even guys like Freddie Freeman have people making their case for whatever reason. But how about a non-Molina St. Louis Cardinal? Derrick Goold presents the bonafides of Matt Carpenter’s season:

Carpenter’s two hits gave him 174 for the season, which leads the National League by eight. His two runs give him 112 so far this season. He’s the only player in the NL with more than 100. He ranks in the top 10 in average (.316), on-base percentage (.386) and on-base plus slugging percentage (.868). Baseball’s new math adores him, too, with a Wins Above Replacement at 5.5 that ranks seventh, just behind RBI leader Paul Goldschmidt’s 5.8. That is also ahead of Yadier Molina, at 5.1, who is having an MVP-caliber season.

Though WAR has entered the MVP conversation in pretty significant ways these past couple of years I don’t think it’s much beyond a talking point for single-season awards. Even among the stat-minded there is a general acknowledgment that single-season WAR numbers should be taken with copious amounts of salt given the uncertainty as to how to measure and weigh defensive numbers. Yes, it’s a fun caricature of a stat person to say they’re WAR-First and WAR-Only, but no one who thinks about this stuff thoughtfully or seriously should make such an argument (not that I think Goold is doing that here; he clearly isn’t).

All of that being said, I believe that if it came down to Carpenter and Molina, I feel like Molina will get all the support and then some, WAR notwithstanding. Generally speaking, when top notch defensive catchers hit .323, it’s really, really hard for voters to say no. Catchers do, quite understandably, get bonus points from people for stellar offense.

League-wide, I feel like it’s either Molina’s or McCutchen’s award, depending on how they and their teams finish and how much people want to wrap a bow on the Pirates’ breakthrough season. Each would be deserving. Even if Carpenter is having a great, great season.

Braves minor leaguer Braxton Davidson fractures foot on walk-off homer in AFL Championship Game

Braxton Davidson
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Braves minor league first baseman Braxton Davidson played the hero during the Arizona Fall League Championship Game on Saturday, but followed up his game-winning homer with what appeared to be a broken left foot.

Braxton had just lofted a 2-1 pitch from Nationals left-hander Taylor Guilbeau in the bottom of the 10th inning and was making his way around the bases when he started hopping on his right foot as he neared the plate. After being helped off the field, that the infielder was quickly taken to a local hospital for further examination, the results of which have yet to be made public.

The 22-year-old helped lift the Peoria Javelinas to their fifth AFL title and second since 2017. He went 2-for-5 with a single and home run in Saturday’s finale over the Salt River Rafters. During the regular season, he completed his third consecutive campaign in High-A and slashed .171/.281/.365 with a career-high 20 home runs and a .646 OPS through 481 plate appearances.