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The case for Javier Baez for National League MVP

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The Cubs infielder has had a magnificent season.

Photo by David Banks/Getty Images

Okay, so maybe this isn’t the best timing for promoting Javier Baez for MVP, considering he’s 2-for-9 with five strikeouts in his last two games.

But the Most Valuable Player award is given for an entire season’s worth of work, and Baez has put together the best season of his career and, in my view, merits the MVP award.

Let’s look at a few numbers, all as of the beginning of play Tuesday, September 25. First, his triple-slash line of .292/.327/.566. Yes, it’s obvious that Javy draws few walks, with the OBP being not that much higher than his BA. He’s got 19 unintentional walks this year, which is actually more than last year (15). Walking simply isn’t his game. Instead, power has become that game, with his .566 SLG just slightly behind Christian Yelich (.576). With 81 extra-base hits (one more than Trevor Story for most in the N.L.) and 21 stolen bases, Javy has reached scoring position under his own power 102 times.

Interested in WAR? I’m using the baseball-reference version here, since bWAR tends to focus on current performance while Fangraphs’ version is more forward-looking.

Baez is second in the N.L. in offensive bWAR at 5.2. Yelich leads with 6.4. But adding defensive value makes the race much closer. Yelich remains at 6.4 overall, while Javy comes in at 6.1. Yelich’s Brewers teammate Lorenzo Cain leads the N.L. at 6.9 bWAR.

Javy began the season as the Cubs’ regular second baseman, but various injuries and other factors have had him starting games at multiple positions: 75 at second base, 45 at shortstop and 18 at third base. He’s a plus defender at all three positions.

I’m going to ignore the fact that Jacob deGrom has posted a higher bWAR — 9.1 — than any of the hitters in the National League. (For that matter, so have Aaron Nola, Max Scherzer and Kyle Freeland). As wonderful a year as deGrom has had, I don’t think this is a year I’d vote for a pitcher for MVP.

And though Cain and Yelich have put together better seasons by bWAR, can they do this [VIDEO]?

Or this? [VIDEO]

Or this? [VIDEO]

Or this? [VIDEO]

Or this? [VIDEO]

Or this? [VIDEO] ... same game as the one above!

Or this? [VIDEO]

Or this? [VIDEO]

Or this? [VIDEO]

I mean... I could go on all day with more of these, but you get the idea. Baez does spectacular things in the field and on the basepaths almost every day. While Yelich and Cain are fine defenders, they can’t do those things.

Javy’s numbers alone rate MVP consideration. His incredible baseball instincts put him over the top, in my view, and I shudder to think where the Cubs would be in the N.L. Central standings without him. “El Mago” should be the National League’s Most Valuable Player for 2018.

Poll

The National League Most Valuable Player in 2018 is...

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Javier Baez
    (411 votes)
  • 0%
    Lorenzo Cain
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Jacob deGrom
    (11 votes)
  • 0%
    Freddie Freeman
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Trevor Story
    (0 votes)
  • 37%
    Christian Yelich
    (262 votes)
  • 0%
    Someone else (leave in comments)
    (1 vote)
691 votes total Vote Now