There's a clear-cut leader for National League MVP honors right now and he resides on the Cincinnati Reds. Who else could I be talking about other than Joey freakin' Votto? SI's Cliff Corcoran published his top five candidates for MVP honors on Friday, and Votto had the top spot locked down.
Here's what Corcoran had to say about the Reds first basemen:
1. Joey Votto, 1B, Reds (HM)
Season Stats: .362/.485/.657, 12 HR, 44 RBI
Last Three Weeks: .507/.575/.881, 5 HR, 16 RBI
(All stats prior to games played on 6/15)
Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, is one point behind Melky Cabrera for the NL lead in batting average and two points behind Paul Konerko for the major league lead. He leads the NL in slugging by 47 points and leads the majors in on-base percentage by 25 points. He also paces the majors in doubles (27, five more than the runners up) and walks (52 against just 49 strikeouts). Votto has hit safely in all but one of his last 19 games, including a pinch-hit single on May 30, and has seven multi-hit games in June.
All that, and his line from the last three weeks above, explains why teams are starting to refuse to pitch to him (he has been walked intentionally four times in the last five games and leads the majors with 11 intentional passes). This is nothing new, of course. Since the start of the 2009 season, Votto leads all hitters with 1,500 or more plate appearances with a 166 OPS+ having hit .323/.426/.574 over that span. Oh, and he's an outstanding defensive first baseman as well.
What did we learn from this? The sky is blue, the grass is green, and Joey Votto is the best player in the league right now...and perhaps even all of baseball. If the Reds do as expected and advance to the postseason for the second time in three years, I'd be shocked if Votto didn't come away with the coveted hardware.