Even without postseason berth, D-backs' Paul Goldschmidt is worthy of NL MVP
The few Baltimore Orioles fans in the park left dejected and undoubtedly complained about the heat that awaited them outside. Meanwhile, Diamondback fans left the ballpark that night to chants of "MVP, MVP, MVP."
For the next 72 hours, sports talk show hosts, sportswriters and sports fans in the Valley prematurely discussed whether Goldschmidt was deserving of those chants.
Personally, I wrote an article claiming that as Goldschmidt laid his head to his pillow that night, he went to sleep the frontrunner for the prestigious National League honor.
By the end of those 72 hours, we'd had our fun with the topic, but it was time to put the Goldschmidt for MVP talk on the back burner.
Of course, I then wrote a second Goldschmidt for MVP article that I believe Arizonasports.com has filed as an archive under the heading "overkill."
Well, guess what?
I'm bringing the subject back.
With only days remaining in the 2013 season, I believe it's worth noting that despite the Diamondbacks having been eliminated from playoff contention, Goldschmidt's case for MVP remains strong, as his stat line has grown stronger.
Home runs - 1st in National League
RBI - 1st
BA- 11th (.001 outside the top 10)
He even has 15 stolen bases, which ties him for 22nd in the league with Carl Crawford, for goodness sake!
Goldschmidt's 2013 statistics represent, and without debate, the most productive offensive season in the National League.
However, the Diamondbacks are not a playoff team. And with five teams now making the playoffs, voters will undoubtedly hold Arizona's second half collapse against the first baseman.
Can Paul Goldschmidt win MVP even though his team didn't qualify for the playoffs?
I wrote in August that three things would have to happen.
1) The Diamondbacks would have to mathematically remain in the race well into September.
2) Goldschmidt must pull away statistically from the other candidates.
3) And one of the playoff-bound candidates can't have a magical September.
The results are in:
1) The Diamondbacks were officially eliminated from the playoffs on September 20th.
2) Goldschmidt has pulled away statistically (see above).
3) I think it's safe to say no other candidate has had a magical September.
But has the door been opened wide enough for a 162-and-done Goldschmidt to slip in for the win?
You be the judge:
GOLDSCHMIDT VS. MCCUTCHEN
Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen is one of two players with a higher WAR than Goldschmidt. He also has a higher batting average, more steals, and plays a more impactful defensive position.
He seemed on the precipice of wrapping up the MVP in early September, but the Pirate center fielder has hit a snag during his team's pennant chase. Since September 10, the Pirates have played .500 baseball, slipped to Wild Card status, and McCutchen has hit but one home run, knocked in just four runs, and is 10 for his last 45 (.222).
During that same stretch, Goldschmidt has reeled off a 15-game hitting streak, going 25-for-60 (.417) with five home runs and 15 RBI.
GOLDSCHMIDT VS. MOLINA
St. Louis' Yadier Molina is the best defensive player in the game. Notice I didn't say 'catcher'. His team is going to win the National League Central, perhaps finish with the best record in the league, and they are 80-49 with him in the lineup, 14-16 without him.
However, stats do matter to voters. Molina is having the best offensive season of his career, but that league-leading .340 batting average he carried into the All-Star break has crashed 25 points, and he's knocked in less than half the runs he did during the first half of the season.
GOLDSCHMIDT VS. CRAIG
How do you factor in Wins Against Replacement (WAR) when your replacement outproduces you? Allen Craig is an RBI machine, but he hasn't played since September 4. His replacement, Matt Adams, has hit eight home runs and knocked in 15 during the crucial final month of the season that saw St. Louis take the Central division from Pittsburgh and Cincinnati.
GOLDSCHMIDT VS. VOTTO
Joey Votto has one hell of an eye, but he also has Brandon Phillips (102 RBI) and Jay Bruce (107 RBI) hitting behind him. Who did Goldschmidt have? Jason Kubel?
Votto received criticism from Reds fans throughout the year for having too good of an eye. He was busy leading the league in walks, when his fat contract suggests he should be an elite run producer.
Only 73 RBI for Votto? Versus 124 for Goldschmidt?
Let's put that gap in perspective. Goldschmidt has a +51 RBI gap over Votto. Votto has a +51 RBI gap over Wil Nieves.
GOLDSCHMIDT VS. PUIG
Speaking of poor run producers...
Yasiel Puig may have been the best story of the 2013 season. But please, Eric Chavez has knocked in more runs than the Dodger rookie and did so in 150 fewer at-bats.
GOLDSCHMIDT VS. FREEMAN
There's not much to knock about Freddie Freeman's season. The Braves rolled to the National League East title this year, despite B.J. Upton, Jason Heyward and Dan Uggla having horrific years.
Only the Mets struck out more than the Braves. Only the Cardinals stole fewer bases. And the team has been shut out 17 times this season, which is also the second-worst total in the National League.
How again did this team win their division?
Home runs, walks, bullpen and Freddie Freeman. That's how.
He even had a great September. Freeman is the sleeper candidate.
GOLDSCHMIDT VS. KERSHAW
Clayton Kershaw has been the best pitcher in the National League in 2013, just as Goldschmidt has been the best offensive player.
But there are plenty of biases used on voting day for MVP. Goldschmidt will face bias for not making the playoffs. And unfortunately, pitchers face bias for not contributing every day. Personally, I think it's bull crap, but it's there.
Writers will cast their votes for NL MVP before the first playoff pitch. The result could be one of the tightest votes in MLB history.
The first place votes will be split between a handful of candidates. And what writer could possibly leave Goldy out of his top five?
The player with the most second and third place votes may just win the award.
But make no mistake, Paul Goldschmidt is in the discussion, and he still may win it, playoffs or not.
Chuck Powell, KTAR.com & ArizonaSports.com contributor