The wait is almost over for Giancarlo Stanton.
No, we’re not talking whether he will be traded by the Marlins, rumors of which have consumed the baseball world in recent days.
We’re talking National League MVP.
Stanton is one of three finalists for the coveted award, which will be announced today at 6:15 p.m. No Marlin has ever won MVP. And only two other Miami pro team athletes — Dan Marino and LeBron James — have ever captured the top individual award in their respective sports.
The award is decided by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, with two voters in each N.L. city (30 in all) casting their ballots between the end of the regular season and the start of the playoffs.
By virtue of his Major League-leading 59 home runs, Stanton would seem to hold the edge over the other two finalists, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto.
But the decision is far from clear cut, and while many believe Stanton ranks as the favorite among the three finalists, convincing arguments can be made for each of his two rivals.
Here’s why Stanton should win the award:
▪ Not only did Stanton lead the league in home runs, he won the title of “Home Run King” by a staggering margin. His 59 blasts were a whopping 20 more than Dodgers rookie Cody Bellinger, who ranked second.
▪ Stanton also led the Majors in runs batted in with 132. The RBI statistic has lost stock within the sabermetric community in recent years. Nonetheless, it is not meaningless.
▪ When it comes to advanced metrics — and writers now pay closer attention to them than they once did — Stanton holds his own. He led all National League hitters in WAR (wins above replacement). According to figures produced by baseballreference.com, Stanton’s WAR of 7.6 was better than both Votto’s (7.5) and Goldschmidt’s (5.8).
Here’s why Stanton could lose the award:
▪ Votto’s on-base percentage is off the charts, and far superior to either Stanton’s or Goldschmidt’s. He reached base 321 times, the highest NL total since Barry Bonds reached 376 times in 2004. Stanton (260) and Goldschmidt (268) came nowhere close to Votto’s staggering total.
▪ Goldschmidt was the only one of the three to play for a team with a winning record. Arizona made the playoffs while Miami and Cincinnati finished well below .500. Every voter has his or her own definition of “Most Valuable,” and for some, a player’s team’s success matters in their decision. The award has gone to a player on a losing team only six times in the past 70 years.
▪ The home run isn’t what it once was. A record 6,105 homers were hit in 2017 and voters might not value Stanton’s raw total the same as they might have in previous years.