Let's clear up a few things about MVP voting.
The first criterion baseball writers are expected to consider, by rule, before casting their MVP vote is "the value of a player to his team, both offensively and defensively."
Notice this doesn't read: A player must be on a playoff team to be considered for his league's MVP award. However, the term "value" does imply that the contributions put forth by a candidate must serve a greater purpose than personal achievement.
This is why a player on a bad team should only be considered for MVP under the most extreme conditions: His statistics absolutely dwarf his competition and/or there is no strong individual candidate to choose from on the contending teams.
But what is considered a contending team?
Simply put: a team that is in the race for a playoff spot.
And no matter how grim the outlook appears for the Arizona Diamondbacks, they are absolutely involved in the race for a playoff spot and have been all season long. In other words, MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt has played in a meaningful game every time he's stepped foot onto the field this season. Unlike Alex Rodriguez, who won the award on a last place team in 2003, Goldschmidt hasn't been given the opportunity to concern himself purely with personal achievement. Therefore, he is in the race, and he is certainly bringing value to a valuable team effort.
Let's add that Goldschmidt currently, and undoubtedly, has the best overall offensive numbers of any player in the National League, and that he's posted these numbers with undeniably the worst lineup support of any league MVP candidate, and the conclusion is clear:
With six weeks left in the season, Paul Goldschmidt is your current leader in the race for NL MVP.
MAJOR POINT #2:
Since my colleague Dan Bickley has brought it up, Yasiel Puig will NOT be the MVP.
The second thing baseball writers are officially asked to consider before casting their MVP vote is: Number of games played.
If Yasiel Puig plays every game for the rest of the season, he will have played in 105 of the Dodgers' 162 games.
No position player has won an MVP with fewer than 117 games played in a season, and that player was Kansas City's George Brett in 1980, when he hit .390 and averaged more than an RBI per game during one of the greatest statistical seasons (shortened by injury or not) in Major League history.
Yasiel Puig has been terrific for the Dodgers, one of the best stories of the year. But dude has 27 runs batted in! Paul Goldschmidt knocked in 26 runs in June alone.
Pete Rose once told me, "this game is and will always be about scoring runs and keeping the other team from scoring." There is NO WAY a sportswriter can justify voting a position player for MVP who has knocked in 66 fewer runs and has produced 96 fewer runs (RBI + runs scored) than a fellow candidate.
Yes, Yasiel Puig provided a much needed spark for the Dodgers. Yes, his influence seemed to turn the fortunes completely about for a talented but dysfunctional roster. But nowhere in the standards for MVP voting is inspiration listed among the voting criteria.
Otherwise, you might as well have awarded the Anaheim Rally Monkey the 2000 AL MVP, and given the St. Louis squirrel the 2011 NL honor.
Puig has been a great story. I can't wait to see how his career develops. Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen is an unbelievable player with a very strong case for MVP. And Yadier Molina of St. Louis was the leader for the award before his injury. He's back now and, no doubt, still in the thick of the race.
But I wrote it earlier this week, and I'll write it again.
The 2013 NL MVP, as of this moment, is Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt.