Cincinnati Reds Joey Votto begins the National League MVP chase

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

After missing out in an historically close race last season, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto is ready to chase the National League MVP Award.

The Cincinnati Reds had a bad season in 2017.  It was the third year in a row that the Reds lost over 90 games.  Joey Votto’s exceptional season, though, was a bright spot in the darkness.

Votto needs to play even better in 2018, if he wants to win his second National League MVP award.  Last year’s NL MVP, Giancarlo Stanton, is now in the American League with the New York Yankees.  Charlie Blackmon, though, is still with the Colorado Rockies.

The odds on favorite to win the NL MVP in 2018 is the overrated Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.  Harper is entering his seventh MLB season.  He won the award in 2015, but has had disappointing power numbers since then.

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The other favorite in the MVP race is Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs.  Bryant won the MVP in the Cubs’ historical 2016 season.  His 2017 numbers were comparable, so a return to the elite MVP level seems plausible.

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A bit of a darkhorse because of his teammate is Nolan Arenado.  He is the best defender of those listed here and was the leader of the Rockies until Blackmon’s breakout season last year.  Arenado’s WAR and total base numbers are constantly at or near the top of the league.

Despite the competition, Cincinnati Reds Joey Votto should still be the favorite to be the best offensive player in the National League.

The question is not whether Votto can continue to lead the league in runs created.  He has lead the league three of the past eight seasons.

No one else in the NL has done that twice, while Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera have each led the AL four times in the same time span.

The question is whether he Votto can put together enough traditional stats to combat the loss of Zack Cozart from above him in the line-up.  Votto got close to the MVP by averaging 175 hits with 30 doubles and 30 home runs the past several years.  Those are attainable, but so is a 150-25-25 split.

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Votto is easily the most consistent elite offensive player in the NL with no true peer.  That doesn’t equate to winning he MVP award on an everyday basis.  It should equate to another year of leading baseball in OBP.  He should also finish somewhere in the top seven for MVP votes in 2018.