3. Arizona Diamondbacks (44–26, plus-89, LT: 6)
As much as the baseball media has become more enlightened about awards voting, some old biases die hard. Greg Holland and Jake McGee and a whole bunch of young starting pitchers are suddenly kicking ass in Colorado, so only now can we start thinking of Nolan Arenado as a legitimate MVP candidate? The Diamondbacks turn their own pitching staff from terrible to really good, and suddenly Paul Goldschmidt’s own MVP candidacy needs to be taken seriously? That kind of argument makes no sense.
On the other hand, the consolation here would be to see a phenomenal player finally rewarded for perennial dominance. In Goldschmidt’s case, that would be rewarding an All-Star first baseman who’s batting an incredible .324/.442/.596, on pace for 37 homers and 30 steals. Goldy’s numbers look even more spectacular when you consider the bigger picture.
Less than three months away from his 30th birthday, he could become just the 11th first baseman ever to end his 20s by hitting .300 or better, with a .400 or better on-base percentage, and a .500 or better slugging average. Six of those 11 players are already in the Hall of Fame, one (Jeff Bagwell) gets inducted next month, another’s a lock whenever the time comes (Albert Pujols), and another (Joey Votto) needs just another couple of years of excellence to clinch his case. That leaves only Todd Helton, an offensive machine who’s got a pretty decent Hall of Fame case but might fall a bit short because he played at Coors Field his whole career, as a Hall outsider in that group that Goldy hopes to join.