In the team’s comparatively brief franchise history, the Arizona Diamondbacks have claimed five Cy Young Awards, but no D-back has ever been named league MVP.
Well, Tuesday night, 25-year-old Paul Goldschmidt went to bed as the leading candidate for the 2013 National League Most Valuable Player Award with just six weeks to play.
Quietly, Goldschmidt may have been leading the chase already, but with Tuesday’s game-tying home run in the ninth, followed by his game-winning home run in the 11th (his second in a week), there is no more ignoring the reality that a little-known All-Star from Arizona would be the pick for MVP if the season ended today.
It truly must make East Coast sportswriters uncomfortable that they’ve not watched him play. I wonder if Tim McCarver has even heard of him. And Goldschmidt’s rise to MVP status must certainly come as news to ESPN, as SportsCenter failed to cover his Tuesday heroics until half of the night’s hour-long show had passed. Then, by the time the Arizona-Baltimore game was mentioned, the headline on the scroll read, “Davis hits 44th HR”, a reference to Baltimore’s Chris Davis adding to his American League-leading home run total during a loss.
Well, guess what? With his two knocks last night, Paul Goldschmidt moved into the National League lead in homers with 29. He also leads the NL in RBI (93), runs produced (170), and ranks second in slugging and OPS.
Furthermore, Goldschmidt leads the NL in most homers hit in the 8th or 9th innings, dude plays a solid defensive first base, and whether or not even his own fan base wants to acknowledge it, his team is in a playoff race. Thanks to him, of course. As it stands, no other Diamondback on the roster has more than 10 home runs and no other Diamondback has more than 51 RBI this season. Meanwhile, SportsCenter headliner Chris Davis is one of five Orioles with 10 homers or more, and one of six with 51 RBI or more.
Goldschmidt hasn’t merely carried his lineup this season, he’s woken it for school every day, cooked it a healthy breakfast, brushed its teeth, combed its hair, and made sure he got it to the bus on time for pickup.
And now he is noticeably stepping up his game for a playoff push? Wow! That is 1999 Chipper Jones-ian.
The MLB All-Star break provides the baseball fan four days to consider things like potential trades for the stretch run, how fat Pablo Sandoval looks in his uniform, how overpaid pretty boy Joe Mauer is, and who’s on pace for the game’s major postseason awards. At the time of the break, I agreed with the vast majority of analysts who’d put St. Louis catcher Yadier Molina at the top of their admittedly fluid MVP lists. After all, when the best defensive player in the game is leading the league in hitting and playing for the best team in baseball, well, those are certainly ingredients for making an MVP.
Molina left a game on July 30 with a knee injury and he hasn’t played since. An immobile MVP candidate may not lose ground, but he can easily be passed. And Goldschmidt has passed him. Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen may have as well.
Of course, Molina will be back in the Cardinals lineup eventually. And there certainly is a lot of baseball yet to be played this season. But something changed Tuesday night. Something most definitely changed, Ray.
The “MVP” chants from the stands weren’t just liquored up war cries from narrow-minded Diamondback homers on their way home from the game. No sir, a campaign was officially launched Tuesday. It stirred when a line drive to left barely cleared the wall, and it then began to boil when a slicing blast to right sent everyone home.
“MVP, MVP, MVP!!!”
You’re damn right he is.