Listen, Cubs fans, if you could handle the indignity that was seeing none of the team’s position players or starting pitchers make the 2017 All-Star Game, then you can deal with this: No matter how well certain Cubs are playing, not one of them has a chance to win National League MVP.
Not reigning winner Kris Bryant. Not RBI machine Anthony Rizzo. The names to know — Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, Nolan Arenado, Joey Votto (and maybe a few others) — are from elsewhere around the league.
But who needs an award to validate what the Cubs have done since the All-Star break? They’ve gone from being 5½ games down to Milwaukee in the division to having a 3½-game lead. They’ve outscored their opponents by a whopping 94 runs. They’ve led all of baseball in runs scored.
Who has been the Cubs’ team MVP this season? Now that’s a fun question.
Manager Joe Maddon threw his support behind Rizzo in the NL race, making it clear whom he considers the Cubs’ MVP. Rizzo, on fire at the plate the last few weeks, has become only the fourth Cubs player to have 30 doubles, 30 homers and 100 RBI in at least three seasons.
“Right now,” Maddon said, “the way Anthony is coming on strongly, if he keeps this pace up in September he’s going to make a strong push for it.”
It’s certainly not impossible that Rizzo could finish in the top four in NL voting for the third year in a row. Again, though, we’re talking here about the team’s MVP.
What about Bryant, whose on-base percentage, baserunning and defense have been better than ever? What about pitcher Jake Arrieta, who was 4-1 with an MLB-best 1.21 ERA in August and has held an improving rotation together? What about Javy Baez, a catalyst in so many big moments with his glove, his bat and his legs? What about catcher Willson Contreras, who was arguably the team’s most important contributor before going on the disabled list Aug. 11?
“There are a lot of guys you could look at,” Bryant said. “You could group five of us together, probably, and let us compete for team MVP. But I’m not ready to pick one yet. Get back to me on that.”
It’s a deal.
Mets reach out, Rivera touched
A day after hitting the first grand slam of his journeyman big-league career, catcher Rene Rivera still was thrilled.
“I’m always going to remember it,” he said of the drive off the left-field foul pole that opened the scoring in the victory over the Braves on Saturday. “I love this game so much. This is still a game, and you’ve got to enjoy it.”
Rivera was especially happy to have heard from a number of players and coaches from his former team, the Mets, including pitcher Noah Syndegaard, shortstop Jose Reyes and Glenn Sherlock, who coaches the team’s catchers.
“They’re good guys,” he said. “I had a good time with them. They were really nice to me.”
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