D-backs’ Corbin Carroll in MVP conversation just 99 games into career

Jun 17, 2023, 7:06 PM | Updated: 7:07 pm

PHOENIX — “MVP-MVP-MVP” rang throughout Chase Field on Friday when Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Corbin Carroll was up to bat.

“It was cool,” Carroll said. “I had to kind of take a moment and collect myself and get back to business. But yeah, just cool.”

No, Carroll is not a typical MVP candidate. He is not an established veteran with years of All-Star appearances. The Diamondbacks outfielder has not been an All-Star yet as entering Saturday, Carroll had played in just 99 MLB games.

However, the rookie has now moved beyond the Rookie of the Year consideration and is in the conversation for National League Most Valuable Player.

The 22-year-old is batting .308 with an NL-leading .978 OPS and an NL-leading 166 OPS+. He leads Arizona with 19 steals and 14 home runs.

“Just all around good (at-bats), good swing decisions, executing the pitches he’s getting to hit over the plate,” D-backs hitting coach Joe Mather said Saturday.

“Definitely not seeing very much chase. … When you’re connecting the way he is and hitting balls hard — he hits the ball really hard — they do tend to miss a little bigger. Whether that’s off the plate or over the middle of the plate. And he’s done a really good job of not chasing those, not trying to do too much. Just kind of let what’s coming to him happen and knowing that over time, it’s all going to play out right.”

D-backs veteran Evan Longoria has played with many baseball players over his career, but said what Carroll brings to the table is “rare.”

“He is not going to need to just drive balls in the gap and hit them out of the ballpark,” Longoria said.

“He can bunt, he can get on base with soft-hit ground balls in the field. So, that old phrase speed doesn’t slump is true for him. He can get on in many, many different ways. And then when he gets on, he steals bases. And we had a game the other day where we weren’t doing a whole lot offensively. He walks, steals second, steals third, we score a run on a sac fly. So he can create offense solely by himself, which is something that very few players can do in this game.”

As of now, Carroll is +1500 to win NL MVP on Fanduel Sportsbook. He has the fourth-best odds to win the award, trailing Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr., Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman and Dodgers utility player Mookie Betts.

The 2023 MLB season is still not even at its halfway point but if Carroll keeps up his current pace and the D-backs, who entered Saturday with the second-best record in the NL at 42-28, he will surely continue to be in the conversation for MVP.

“I think as long as he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s going to be in that conversation for the rest of the year,” Longoria said.

“That’s not going to take away from any of the work or any of the effort or all of that stuff. He’s got a great head on his shoulders. Comes from a great family. He’s got a great work ethic and so all of those things, I think, have set him up for this opportunity and set him up for success.”

Carroll would not say if winning MVP is now a goal for him. But he did say he is happy with how he has played so far this season and assessed his career to this point.

“Plenty of successes,” Carroll said. “Plenty of failures. But at the end of the day, plenty of opportunities for growth. I’m excited about what’s to come and what I can do each day as opposed to kind of what I have done.”

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