It is September, and the Colorado Rockies are once again making one of their patented runs towards a playoff spot. Despite losing their last two games to the first place San Diego Padres, the Rockies sit just three and a half games back in both the National League West race and the NL Wild Card race. And they have made their charge largely on the shoulders of one man – Carlos Gonzalez.
Both Albert Pujols and Joey Votto have had outstanding seasons in their own right, and Gonzalez is arguably the lesser known and lesser established of the three players. However, all three players have spent their majority of their summer chasing the Triple Crown, and today it is my job to focus on CarGo (I’ll let my colleagues focus on the merits of those other two guys).
Gonzalez’s numbers for the 2010 season are outstanding. After last night’s game, he is currently hitting .340 with 32 home runs and 104 runs batted in. That batting average leads the league by a fairly significant margin at this point (though Braves second baseman Omar Infante may eventually come into play, and will likely provide a challenge for him). He is fourth in the league in home runs, and tied for the lead in RBIs with Mr. Pujols (he also hit for the cycle earlier this year). He is what manager Jim Tracy likes to call a “six-tool” player.
What is truly amazing about Gonzalez is the tear he has been on the second half of the season, which has coincided with the annual run the Rockies seem to always make towards a postseason berth.
Ironically, his surge began after he was snubbed from the All-Star team and lost out on the final fan vote to Votto of all people. Since the All-Star break, he has hit .375 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs, with an extremely high slugging percentage of .735, and an on-base percentage of .418. That, my friends, is lighting it up. Compare those second half numbers to those of his main competitors for the MVP award.
Albert Pujols, in the second half of the season, is hitting .307 with 18 home runs, 40 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .623, and an on base percentage of .378. Votto, meanwhile, is hitting .332 with 12 home runs, 43 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .596, and an on-base percentage of .422.
It is not like any of them have slumped down the stretch, but neither has kept pace with Gonzalez’s performance (and Pujols’ team has certainly faded a little).
It is going to be a dogfight these last two and a half weeks to see who takes the lead in this battle for the MVP award. All three guys have had outstanding seasons, but Carlos Gonzalez literally came out of nowhere the second half of the season, and brought his team along for the ride. That is what puts him at the top and that is why he gets my vote for National League MVP.