The MLB playoff race can conceivably be boiled down to about 12 teams, with one or two more on the fringes but looking less realistic by the day. Those 12 teams are in different spots. Some will feel better than others about their chances of making an impact in the playoffs, but each team has at least one player upon whom they can rely.
Here’s a look at each contender’s most important player.
Arizona Diamondbacks — Paul Goldschmidt, 1B
For a team that has often been known for having a powerhouse offense, the Diamondbacks have at times struggled to get men on base this season. That has not been a problem for Goldschmidt, who remains one of the game’s more overlooked stars. For the fifth time in seven seasons, he has surpassed 30 home runs and is the centerpiece of Arizona’s offense. When he does well, they do well.
St. Louis Cardinals fans are breathing a sigh of relief.
Matt Carpenter left Wednesday night’s game against the Washington Nationals after being hit by a pitch in the seventh inning. Though seeing your hottest hitter get nailed is never good, the positive is that the X-rays came back negative.
Carpenter was 0-for-2 with a walk and run scored. He’s been on fire lately and nearly raised his season OPS to 1.000. He hit eight homers during a six-game stretch last month. He also has seven homers since Aug. 3.
The Cardinals entered play on Wednesday on a seven-game winning streak. They are 11-2 so far in August.
As we head towards the final month of the regular season, the pennant races in baseball are heating up, and so are the awards races. The MVP races in both leagues are looking very intriguing as we get into crunch time.
In the American League, there are several worthy candidates, though two teams are heavily represented. The National League race is even more wide open, with no clear standouts — a factor that could open the door to a pitcher winning the award for the first time since 2014.
Here’s a look at the top five MVP candidates in both the American and National League.
5) Francisco Lindor, Indians
Lindor finished fifth in last year’s voting and he’s having an even better season than he did last year. Hitting just shy of .300 and with his second consecutive 30-home run season in sight, the Cleveland shortstop’s candidacy will be bolstered not just by his offensive numbers, but because he plays quality defense at one of the most important positions on the field. Despite this, he’s viewed as a longshot, as his offensive numbers lag behind those of his key competitors.
St. Louis Cardinals slugger Matt Carpenter has been on fire during the team’s current road trip, and now that appears to be taking on a literal sense as well.
During Saturday’s doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs, Carpenter clubbed home runs in each of the two games to mark his fifth and sixth dingers in his last four contests. The homers also brought his RBI total to ten over that span.
After the game, Carpenter credited some homemade salsa that he brought on the road trip for the home run binge, per Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The salsa was made from ingredients that were grown in a garden at Carpenter’s house, a garden that was built by teammate Adam Wainwright.
The three-time All-Star is now up to 25 homers and 53 RBIs on the season to go along with a .277 batting average. As for the Cardinals, they have four more games on their current trip, so hopefully Carpenter has enough salsa to last.
While there’s definitely potential for some spicy memes here (pun very much intended), it’s still a distant second to the home runs Carpenter hit last year.
The devastation caused by Hurricane Harvey has forever changed the lives of people in Houston and the surrounding areas, and Matt Carpenter is one of many professional athletes with ties to the area who are doing what they can to help.
On Monday, Carpenter pledged $10,000 for every home run he hits to the relief efforts in Houston.
Carpenter, who plays for the St. Louis Cardinals, is from Galveston, Texas. He has 17 home runs this season, so here’s hoping he hits plenty more down the stretch.
We have already seen J.J. Watt help raise more than $500,000 for the victims of Hurricane Harvey, and a UFC fighter from Texas spent time picking victims up in his truck after they had been displaced from their homes. The people of Houston and the surrounding areas will need as much help as they can get, so it’s nice to see people who are more fortunate stepping up.
The St. Louis Cardinals will have to wait a little bit longer to remember what The World According to Carp looks like.
According to a report by Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Thursday, Cardinals infielder Matt Carpenter, who has been dealing with a back issue, is still not game-ready for hitting and is about 10 days away from being cleared to swing in-game.
The 31-year-old Carpenter was scratched from Grapefruit League action exactly a week ago with stiffness in the back, and his slow progress since then is slightly concerning with the Cardinals set to open the season in just 24 days.
Carpenter, who batted .271/.380/.505 with 21 home runs and 68 RBIs for St. Louis last season and made his third All-Star team in four years, is expected to be their everyday first baseman in 2017. The back injury also forced him to withdraw from the World Baseball Classic, so the Cards will cross their fingers that Carpenter doesn’t suffer any setbacks between now and Opening Day.
Image via FOX Sports Midwest on YouTube
Todd Helton may be old and not as effective as he once was, but he still has his guile.
The Colorado Rockies first baseman successfully tagged out St. Louis Cardinals second baseman Matt Carpenter at first on Thursday after faking a throw back to the pitcher following a pickoff move. Helton held onto the ball and waited to see if Carpenter would step off the base. Thinking that the pitcher had the ball, Carpenter stepped off the bag, which is when Helton tagged him for the final out of the first.
Helton also homered in the bottom of the ninth to tie the game and send it to extras, where the Rockies won 7-6 in 15.
Is it just me, or has this sort of play become exceedingly common this season? We saw it happen to Juan Uribe on this play, and it also happened to Max Stassi last month.
Carpenter, by the way, has been awesome this season and is a legitimate MVP candidate.