Greg Cote

Marlins’ Stanton no cinch for MVP but should be, and reason is something last seen in 1932

Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton before his at-bat against the Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) during the first inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Mon., Aug. 28, 2017, in Washington.
Miami Marlins right fielder Giancarlo Stanton before his at-bat against the Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer (31) during the first inning of a baseball game at Nationals Park, Mon., Aug. 28, 2017, in Washington. AP

Miami Marlins powerhouse Giancarlo Stanton is this season's Most Valuable Player in the National League, it isn't close, there is no arguing it, and any of my compadres in the Baseball Writers' Association of America who fail to vote for Stanton should be made to sit in a corner while awaiting results of their sobriety test.

So why am I testifying on Stanton's behalf if the case is so open-and-shut? Because it isn't. Because too many voters decline to grasp that MVP is an individual award, not one tethered to team success. That is why it is necessary to detail how Stanton has earned this award by an historic measure, by distancing himself from the competition to a degree not even seen in the era of inflated cartoon muscles and stats, the time of steroids and other pharmaceutical enhancements.

Start by casting back to a time that predates even my well-worn memory, and to a couple of names straight outta Cooperstown:

Ralph Kiner, 1949.

Jimmie Foxx, 1932.

Kiner, during the Truman presidency, was the last player to lead the NL in home runs by a greater margin (18) than the lead of 17 that Stanton carried onto Wednesday's game.

And Foxx, in the grip of the Great Depression, was the last man to lead the entire majors in homers by more (17) than Stanton's current margin of 14.

Not even Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa with all of their nefarious help were smoking competition the way Stanton now is.

So it isn't just that the Marlins right fielder's 51 home runs have him on pace for 63. It isn't just that he as a real shot to be the first since Roger Maris in 1961 to top 60 homers taint-free.

It is that he is alone doing it. Out front like Usain Bolt racing a pack of mules.

Stanton leads the NL in OPS (on-base plus slugging) with 1.057, leads in WAR (wins above replacement) at 6.4 and is second in RBIs 110), with career highs for average (.295), runs (103), RBIs and total bases (323). His strikeout rate is at a career- low. Baserunners who test his arm usually walk head-low back to the dugout.

Since the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby hosted by the Marlins, the de facto coming out party for Yankees phenom Aaron Judge, Stanton has batted .331 with a 1.312 OPS and a home run every 6.2 at bats. His surge has been the one indispensible reaason why the Fish have surged from 13 games below .500 into a fight (albeit uphill) for a wild-card playoff spot. He has made this season interesting. Kept the Marlins relevant.

His 30 homers in July and August have been the most in any two-month span by anybody since 1995. His 18 in August (entering Wednesday) tied an MLB record. ("That's pretty cool," said the laid-back Stanton). He is the first NL 50-homer man since Prince Fielder in 2007.

There are other worthy contenders for the NL MVP award. They include Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt and Colorado's Nolan Arenado. They might have included Washington's Bryce Harper if not for the knee injury that sidelines him still. Or Los Angeles' Clayton Kershaw if only for the season the Dodgers are having, except that pitchers have their own award and are rightly considered part-time employees in terms of MVP consideration.

Goldschmidt might be the biggest competition, and his team is better than Miami, but he is having an ordinary-great season, with the kind of numbers you see from a bunch of guys every year.

Stanton is having an extraordinarily great season, one making history pay attention as he makes his move toward 60 home runs, a plateau that has withstood the devaluation of the steroids era to still be a magical number across all sports and eras.

There are three words for a season like that, but the acronym will do.

MVP.

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