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ESPN MLB experts predict NL MVP for Goldschmidt

Arizona Diamondbacks' Paul Goldschmidt connects for a home run as San Diego Padres' Austin Hedges, middle, and umpire Gary Cederstrom, left, look on during the first inning of a baseball game Tuesday, April 25, 2017, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Paul Goldschmidt has been the NL MVP runner up twice in his career (2013, 2015), but with the combination of the five-time All-Star’s pace for one of the best seasons of his career and the D-backs holding a playoff spot at the All-Star break, 2017 could be the year he breaks through.

Goldschmidt is top 10 in the National League in runs (73), hits (99), walks (57), home runs (20), RBI (67), batting average (.312), on-base percentage (.428), slugging percentage (.577) and OPS (1.005).

Those stats are a big reason that 12 out of 27 of ESPN’s MLB experts predicted that Goldschmidt would walk away with the MVP award at the end of the season.

The NL MVP race looks like a crowded affair, including several players from the Nationals plus Clayton Kershaw in the mix. As much as Kershaw and Max Scherzer will probably deserve consideration, it’s hard for pitchers to win — especially when there are two standouts. So I’ll go with America’s first baseman, who has the highest WAR at the break and will lead his team to the playoffs. — Dave Schoenfield

The closest vote-getter to the two-time Silver Slugger is Bryce Harper with eight, followed by Nolan Arenado with three and two votes each going to Corey Seager and Clayton Kershaw.

The main key for Goldschmidt to take home the hardware is for the D-backs to get into the postseason.

Just eight times during the “six division” era (i.e., 1994 onward), has an MVP come from a team that failed to make the playoffs.

Missing the playoffs is what derailed his 2013 MVP case. He topped the eventual MVP Andrew McCutchen by 15 home runs and 41 RBI, but failed to even receive a first place vote.

If his stats hold up and the D-backs reach the playoffs, Goldschmidt, a “perennially underrated” player, ESPN says, could end up being the first MVP in franchise history.

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