Fittingly, the chase for the National League MVP is a three-horse race.
While it appears neither Joey Votto, Carlos Gonzalez or Albert Pujols will pull off the rare Triple Crown, each came within a whisker of joining the likes of Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Secretariat and Seattle Slew.
Heading into Tuesday’s action here’s how the trio ranked in the NL in the three major offensive statistical categories:
1. Carlos Gonzalez – .340
3. Joey Votto – .323
9. Albert Pujols – .306
1. Albert Pujols – 39
2. Joey Votto – 35
4. Carlos Gonzalez – 32
1. Albert Pujols – 107
2. Carlos Gonzalez – 107
3. Joey Votto – 106
Gonzalez leads the NL with seven more hits than anyone else, but with any Colorado Rockies player, there’s always the issue of inflated stats because of the rarified Denver air. It’s to be expected that a player would have better statistics in a park where the ball does most of the work for you. But Gonzalez’s home/road splits show more than just a slight difference.
Home stats: .392, 25 HR, 72 RBI
Road stats: .288, 7 HR, 35 RBI.
I’m sorry, but that’s quite the disparity. Gonzalez’s numbers are impressive and there’s no doubting that he’s a stud, but his gaudy offensive numbers are nothing more than a by-product of Coors Field. There’s no other way to slice it.
Consider him today’s Dante Bichette. Nothing more than an adequate hitter in his five big league seasons before arriving in Denver, Bichette put up some of the best offensive numbers of any player in the 1990s. He led the NL in hits twice (1995 and 1998) and finished in the top four in RBI four times between 1994-99. In fact, he had the seventh most RBI in all of baseball during the 1990s. Yet Bichette never finished higher than second in the MVP voting (1995). His other top campaigns saw him fit enough to place 14th, 20th and 21st in the voting. Why? Because getting to play 81 games on the moon is akin to cheating. Or at the very least, far from an even playing field.
Both Votto and Pujols have similar power numbers at home and on the road. Neither Great American Ballpark or the new Busch Stadium have proved to be advantageous like Coors is for Gonzalez. Therefore, I’m tossing out Gonzo’s candidacy for MVP.
Home stats: .300, 18 HR, 54 RBI
Road stats: .344, 17 HR, 52 RBI
Home stats: .335, 17 HR, 52 RBI
Road stats: .279, 22 HR, 55 RBI
So do you give Pujols his fourth MVP and third in a row? Or give it to some shy Canadian kid, who was so reserved and devastated after his father’s death in 2009, people jumped to the conclusion he was gay.
In the end, it’s a pretty easy decision.
The Reds are seven games ahead of the Cardinals in the Central. When the stats are so tight between the two, I’m going with team success and Votto has Cincinnati preparing for the playoffs for the first time since 1995.
You remember 1995. Tommy Callahan spent seven years at college before selling brake pads without a guarantee on the box, Coolio was telling us all about the “Gangsta’s Paradise” and the O.J. Simpson trial was the television event of the season.
And in case that wasn’t enough, there’s this: Joey Votto hasn’t hit an infield pop fly all season. That’s freaking ridiculous. It basically means the guy hasn’t missed his spot all year. Nuts. (Not a gay joke.)
So there you have it, you’re 2010 NL MVP is Joey Votto. Pretty cut and dry if you ask me (though I know you didn’t).