Once upon a time most baseball experts were handing the National League Most Valuable Player Award to Jacob deGrom, the ace righty for the Mets. Either him or Fernando Tatis Jr., the wunderkind shortstop of the Padres. But both players have fallen off in recent weeks with significant injuries, leaving the NL MVP race wide open.
Tatis, who has suffered with a shoulder strain in his throwing arm, is apparently taking flyballs with the intention of coming back to play the outfield, where he won’t need to throw as much. But who knows how that banged up shoulder will impact his swing. Before he went on the Injured List last month, he was hitting .292 with a league-high 31 doubles, league-high 23 homers, and the best OPS and SLG in the NL too. As a shortstop, those type of numbers are going to win you the MVP almost any year. But if Tatis falters when he returns, or fails to stick in the lineup, the MVP race will be open to many players.
The last time deGrom toed the rubber was more than a month ago, on July 7. He is ailing from inflammation in his right forearm, which hasn’t allowed the ace to throw much at as he monitors his health, and he was forced to cut a tossing session short about a week ago because of tenderness. Some reports hint that deGrom may not be back until September, if he’s able to avoid a shutdown at all. He currently stands at 7-2 with a glimmering 1.08 ERA, but he’s only made 15 starts and has fewer than 95 innings for the season. Even if he is able to make a few starts down the stretch, it seems unlikely that deGrom would garner enough support given his light workload in 2021.
This table shows the odds from two sportsbooks for the NL MVP Award.
Odds For National League Most Valuable Player
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||Padres||-110||-110|
Harper won the award in 2015 when he was only 22 years old. He’s having his first great season for the Phillies, who have vaulted past the Mets into first place in the NL East. Should the Phils maintain that lead and Harper finishes near the top in homers and slugging, he could win his second MVP trophy.
Max Muncy is not a criminal mastermind from a Superman comic book, he’s the bearded, thick-chested first baseman for the Dodgers. Muncy has 22 homers and leads LA in RBIs. But he faces an uphill battle for the MVP award because 3-4 of his teammates will also garner a lot of attention from voters. One could argue that Chris Taylor, whom both sportsbooks have listed as +10000 for NL MVP, has been far more valuable to the defending world champion Dodgers.
The Dodgers acquired Turner at the trade deadline, and the All-Star infielder has a lot going for him, like decent power numbers and the chance to win the batting title. But he’ll be handicapped by having been traded: typically voters don’t reward a player who was dealt mid-season unless their numbers are Marty Feldman eye-popping.
An interesting dark horse candidate is Freddie Freeman of the Braves, who won the award last season. Freeman has 64 runs batted in, and MVP voters love RBIs. He’s popular and currently sits third in homers and is in the top ten in the batting race. If Not-So-Fast Freddie pushes himself into the top five in the three triple crown categories while carrying the Braves back into the playoff race, his MVP chances will soar. At +850 (FanDuel), he’s an attractive bet.
Negro Leagues Figures Can Be Considered for Baseball Hall of Fame Once Again
Earlier this year, MLB announced that the negro leagues (which were several different organized leagues for black players that existed from about 1910 through the 1950s) would be considered “major leagues” on par with the American and National Leagues, Federal League, and so on.
Overnight this placed the statistics of negro leagues legends like Satchel Paige and Josh Gibson alongside those of Nolan Ryan and Babe Ruth, etc. The decision was overdue, and it’s helped elevate awareness of those black players and others, as well as their struggles to play with white players.
Previously, the National Baseball Hall of Fame had announced that their 2006 mass election of several negro leagues players and pioneers would close the lid on that category of inductees. But now that MLB has classified the negro leagues as major leagues, the Hall of Fame has rightfully made those players eligible under their “era committee” election process.
Which all means that later this year, when the Early Baseball Committee meets some time in December to consider ten candidates comprised of players, umpires, managers and executives/pioneers “who made their greatest impacts in baseball prior to 1950,” players and other figures from the negro leagues will be eligible.
Here are five candidates that should be considered from the negro leagues:
- Minnie Miñoso
- Dick Lundy
- Dick “Cannonball” Redding
- Rap Dixon
- Spottswood Poles
The only figure on that list that may be familiar to most baseball fans is Miñoso, whose career bridged the years after Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in 1947. Miñoso played 17 seasons in the “integrated” major leagues, counting two public relations stunt appearances when he was past the age of 50. But the bulk of his career came from 1946 to 1964, when he was a nine-time All-Star outfielder.
Cuban-born Miñoso received MVP votes in eight seasons, even though he didn’t get a chance to play regularly in the majors until he was 25 years old, due to the color of his skin. He was second in Rookie of the Year voting, and he was one of the most daring baserunners in the league, leading in steals three times. He was no one-trick pony: Miñoso batted .299 for his career (in games we have stats for) and he won three Gold Glove awards.
It’s a travesty that Miñoso is not already in the Hall of Fame. He was not allowed to play in the top integrated leagues until he was, as I said, 25. Before that he was a star in the negro leagues, and he was also one of the premier players in his native Cuba. For years, Miñoso also played winter ball in whatever country would have him. When all of his professional stats are combined, he had more than 4,000 hits and was usually among the best players in teh leagues he competed in.
Here’s hoping that the Early Baseball Committee considers Miñoso this December.