September isn’t going for Giancarlo Stanton the way August did for him. Home runs aren’t flying off his bat. His strikeouts are up. And to make matters worse, the Marlins are losing left and right.
He’s hitting just .140 with three home runs since Aug. 30.
It’s not the most desirable of circumstances for Stanton in his quest to become the Marlins’ first player to win the Most Valuable Player award. Nor is it a death knell for his candidacy.
But the 30 journalists who vote for baseball’s top individual honor are beginning to take a closer look at the top contenders, and now is not a good time for a late-season fade.
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Still, Stanton’s numbers remain formidable in the MVP debate.
His 54 home runs are 16 more than the next player on the rankings list, the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger. His 113 RBI put him in a tie for second with Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, trailing only the 124 produced by Colorado’s Nolan Arenado.
His OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) of 1.007 ranked second to Joey Votto’s 1.039 and just ahead of the Rockies’ Charlie Blackmon at 1.004. He’s in a dead heat with Votto — 6.8 to 6.8 — in terms of WAR (Wins Above Replacement), according to the baseballreference.com formula.
“Giancarlo Stanton is probably your front-runner,” said the Cincinnati Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans, who has an MVP vote. “But I haven’t crunched everything yet. It’s going to be a tough one this year. There’s so many really good players who are having excellent seasons.”
And it’s not just about the numbers.
“I wish it were a pure mathematical formula,” Rosecrans said. “It would make everything so much easier. I do believe there is some interpretation.”
Rosecrans, as well as Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, said they create statistical grids looking at all sorts of numbers when trying to come up with an MVP.
In addition, both said they will also gather the opinions of other players, scouts, managers and coaches to help them with their decisions, to look beyond just the raw numbers.
“What am I missing?” Goold said he asks them. “What do the numbers not tell me?”
Then there’s the question of “Valuable” and its meaning.
Does it mean the player who is most valuable to a contending club? Does it mean the best individual player regardless of his team’s success?
It’s important for Stanton and Cincinnati’s Votto because their teams are out of contention.
“I’ve wrestled with this a lot,” Goold said. “I think of valuable as a synonym for influential. So I try to look at what player is most influential to a team’s success.”
“Are they anywhere close to the team that are, even as a losing team, without Votto?” Goold said. “The answer is no.”
Said Rosecrans: “I don’t think Giancarlo Stanton’s season is any less special because the Marlins don’t have a great record. I would say the same thing about Joey Votto.”
There are other factors. Arenado and Blackmon, for example, play half their games at hitter-friendly Coors Field.
“The Colorado guys are tough,” Rosecrans said. “Look at the splits of Blackmon. Half the time he’s the greatest player on earth, and half the time he’s not.”
▪ Sunday: Marlins LHP Dillon Peters (0-1, 2.50 ERA) at Milwaukee Brewers RHP Brandon Woodruff (1-2, 3.14), 2:10 p.m., Miller Park.
▪ Monday: Marlins RHP Dan Straily (9-9, 4.24) vs. New York Mets RHP Matt Harvey (5-5, 6.14), 7:10 p.m., Marlins Park.