A strong second half placed Joey Votto in the conversation for NL MVP, but on Thursday the league’s top player in 2010 watched superstar outfielder Bryce Harper claim the award.
Harper collected all 30 first place votes to claim his first MVP award. The 23-year old who grew up playing baseball against this years NL Rookie of the Year, Kris Bryant, also claimed a Silver Slugger and the Hank Aaron award to wrap of his fine season. He finished the season with 42 homers, 99 RBI and a .330 average with 38 doubles. The one downside is that despite a strong roster, the Nationals failed to make the postseason which led to the dismissal of manager Matt Williams. Harper becomes the first player to not make the playoffs and win the award since Albert Pujols did so for the Cardinals in 2008. The Nevada native also became the first player in franchise history including the team’s time in Montreal to win the award.
Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt finished second in the voting after he turned in yet another solid season with an average team. Under first year skipper Chip Hale, the Diamondbacks finished 79-83 which put them in third behind the Giants and Dodgers. Goldschmidt gave his best effort in the losing season posting a .321 average with 33 homers and 110 RBI which earned him his third straight All-Star appearance earning the start for the NL in Cincinnati. He also claimed the Gold Glove for the position.
That meant third place for Votto who must have taken exception to being left out of the All-Star festivities at Great American Ballpark. He put up good numbers before the break hitting .277 with 15 homers while driving in 42 while walking 57 times in 310 at bats. In the second half he proved to be a nightmare for any pitcher that took the mound improving that average to .362 while keeping pace in HR (14) and RBI (38), but did so while walking 86 times for a .535 OBP. The effort may have gone unnoticed for those not facing Votto as the Reds were on their way to finishing with the second worst record in baseball and just one game ahead of the Phillies who had just 29 wins at the All-Star break.
Votto was the last of the few Reds who had any chance at taking home any hardware. Brandon Phillips failed to claim another Gold Glove while Billy Hamilton came up short for the second straight year. Todd Frazier was named as a finalist, but was not going to dethrone Nolan Arenado who has won the Gold Glove at third three straight years now. Votto was shutout by Goldschmidt in most offensive categories aside from OBP keeping him from the Silver Slugger award.
Harper looks to get the Nationals back on track, Goldschmidt looks to take the next step with Arizona, and it might be another year for Votto as the Reds will send out slightly more experienced young arms, but could also trade many of the familiar faces that once accompanied him in the dugout.