Tulowitzki's hot hitting not enough to propel him into MVP chase
With just two weeks left in the regular season, there is still surprisingly little decided with regard to the major awards and a solid chance that the final two weeks do little to clarify matters. One of the questions readers of this column might ask is, "Where's Tulo?" The Rockies'
The reasons why are fairly straightforward. As hot as Tulowitzki has been, he missed more than a month with a broken wrist mid-season, which both carved a chunk out of his total value for the season and suppressed his counting stats. Even with his recent outburst, he's 13th in the league in home runs with 26, behind fellow middle infielder
It's not unheard of for late-season hot streaks to propel players to the MVP. The most recent example being
The remaining three of Cabrera, Bautista, and Beltre present the most consistently productive hitter in the league this year (Cabrera), a completely unanticipated break-out season that is about to result in the first 50-plus home run total in either league since 2007 (Bautista), and a fantastic offensive season from arguably the game's best defensive third baseman (Beltre). I expect Beltre to be unfairly overlooked, and though Bautista has been a sensation, I think his .262 average and lack of star power coming into the season will work against him. That leaves a top three that, if the season were to end today, might still look like this:
With just two weeks left in the season, the Triple Crown hopes of recent weeks have faded. Neither Votto nor
Tulowitzki is grabbing all the headlines with an out-of-his-mind September (.351/.407/1.000, 14 HR, 34 RBI), but, in part due to time lost to injury, even that absurd performance hasn't pulled him up into the MVP picture. Besides, Gonzalez isn't hitting a home run every day, but he is hitting .441/.519/.662 on the month, continuing a hot streak that extends back to July 1, when Tulo was still on the DL. Gonzalez's deficit in on-base percentage and the likelihood of the Rockies missing the playoffs should keep him from taking home the hardware, but he's a solid second place in what long seemed like a two-man race between Votto and Pujols.
The counting stats are there, but relative to his own absurd standard, Pujols' rate stats are down this season. In the course of winning the last two NL MVPs, he averaged 42 home runs and 125 RBIs, totals within his reach this year, but also hit .342/.452/.656, which is yet another level of awesomeness above what he has accomplished in 2010. Expect Pujols to be penalized a bit for failing to live up to his own past performance, and even moreso for the failures of his Cardinals in the NL Central, however unfair either of those demerits might be.
On Saturday, Sabathia became the first 20-game winner in either league since 2008. The Monday before that, he locked horns with
This race remains impossibly tight, but again, Halladay gets the edge due to his decisive edge in innings, K/BB ratio, and complete games and shutouts. Also, don't forget that Halladay threw a perfect game in May. Not only is that a point in his favor, but if he does win the Cy Young, he'll be just the second man to do so for a season in which he pitched a perfect game. The first was
Feliz made just one appearance in the last week in part because he was on unofficial paternity leave to attend the birth of his daughter (speaking of which, it's time for Major League Baseball to make paternity leave official like bereavement leave, so that teams aren't penalized when their players try to be good fathers and husbands). As a result, Feliz is still one save shy of the rookie record, which is the key to his candidacy for this award.
There are many reasons to prefer Jackson over Feliz in this race. Primarily that Jackson is an everyday player who contributes in the field and on the bases as well as at the plate. There's also the fact that he's a "proper" rookie, one who made his major league debut on Opening Day, whereas Feliz spent two months in the majors in 2009, dominating in 20 relief appearances that made his 2010 performance seem tame by comparison. The rookie saves record will likely clinch it for Feliz, but don't be surprised to see Jackson take home the award.
Davis took a no-decision in his lone start this past week, but he did set a season-high with eight strikeouts. That's another sign that he is rounding back into form after an underwhelming start to his first full major league season. Davis struck out nine men in his major league debut last September and `0 men in his third major league start, but had struck out as many as seven in a game just twice this season.
Heyward has hit .327/.442/.505 since returning from a the disabled list after the All-Star break and .400/.519/.648 in 28 games since August 21. That late push plus the likelihood of his Braves reaching the postseason (though that really shouldn't be a factor) have inched him past
Posey has been a key player in the Giants' stretch-drive attempt to slip past the Padres into first place in the NL West (something they did again on Sunday thanks in part to Posey doubling twice and walking thrice in five plate appearances and scoring three runs). Posey has had two hits in five of the Giants' last six wins and has homered in three of them, including two against the Padres two weekends ago. Those performances should stick in the minds of voters and help him fend off the more impressive counting stats of full-season rookies such as the Marlins'