While the American League MVP award seems destined to land in the home of Houston’s diminutive second baseman Jose Altuve, the National League MVP is still very much up in the air.
A discussion in RealSport HQ today got us thinking, and really there is no front-runner for the NL MVP the way there is in the AL. Between injuries, slumps, lack of coverage, and a host of other factors, there is a tightly-knit pack of players all vying for the crown. So I’m here to advocate for my pick, Arizona’s first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
The do-it-all first baseman
It can be difficult to draw headlines on the west coast, especially when you’re not in LA and called Clayton Kershaw. However, Paul Goldschmidt has been incredible this season.
Coming off the back of a three-homer performance last night in Chicago, the 29-year-old from Delaware is slashing a ridiculous .320/.440/.591 with 25 homers, 85 RBI, and 15 steals.
He is currently second in WAR in the National League per FanGraphs, behind Anthony Rendon. A lot of that gap has to do with defense, and while that is a big part of the game, for a first baseman he has a remarkably good glove.
However, what sets Goldschmidt apart from his peers at first is what he does on the basepaths. This is Goldy’s fifth year of having double-digit steals, and while he’s not going to touch his 2016 total of 32(!), he can hit 20 this year. That surprising speed and impressive get-off help his overall baserunning as well.
It’s a part of the game that is often overlooked, but it separates him from other first basemen like Joey Votto and is even an advantage over outfielders like Bryce Harper and Charlie Blackmon. In fact, FanGraphs rates Goldschmidt as the 6th most effective baserunner in the National League this year behind speedsters like Dee Gordon and Billy Hamilton, the Brewers’ Orlando Arcia, Miami’s Christian Yelich, Cincy’s Jose Peraza and that. Is. It.
Oh, and he has the best Offensive rating per FanGraphs too. Why shouldn’t he be MVP again?
The argument against Goldschmidt
He doesn’t play a premium position, which hurts compared to the likes of Blackmon in center, or Corey Seager at short. He also doesn’t lead the NL in any traditional stats. He is eight homers behind Giancarlo Stanton, 11 RBI behind Nolan Arenado, 30 points in average and eight points in OBP behind Justin Turner, and 26 points of slugging behind Bryce Harper.
However, when you stack his numbers together they surpass, or at least are on a par, with everyone else’s. His wRC+ is a magical 159, behind only Harper (164) and Turner (162), but he’s played nine more games than Harper and 25 more than Turner.
He has come runner-up in the MVP voting twice (2013 & ‘15), but if he keeps up his current pace there should be no stopping Goldy from becoming the first MVP in Diamondback franchise history.
By Tony Durant