With the possible exception of Jean Segura, this season's most positive development for the Brewers has to be Carlos Gomez's transition from "toolsy" to stardom. B-Ref lists Gomez as being worth 6.6 wins above replacement (rWAR) this season, four tenths of a win more than any other NL player. He's a dark horse candidate, to be sure, but does Gomez deserve to be NL MVP?
I'll leave it up to you to decide that, but in the meantime this new weekly feature will take a look at Gomez's performance over the last seven days as compared to some of the award's other likely candidates.
Last seven days: 1-for-19, HR, 3 BB, batting .053/.174/.211
Last 30 days: Batting .202/.293/.417, 10-for-12 stealing bases
Maybe now isn't actually the best time to start the MVP campaign for Gomez, because his numbers are slipping a bit. Gomez's batting average has dropped 24 points in the last 30 days, although surprisingly enough his walk rate has covered for it a bit: He's walked 12 times in his last 99 plate appearances after taking just 13 free passes in his previous 330 trips.
If Gomez was on a winning team, the season he's having might be enough to make him the MVP frontrunner. Because many voters won't choose a player on a losing team, though, his only hope to win the award probably requires both of the following possibilities:
- Finishing really strong.
- A lack of clear opposing candidates.
So, with that said, let's look at who he's up against.
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
Last seven days: 8-for-18, 4 BB, batting .444/.522/.611
Last 30 days: Batting .337/.413/.621 with six home runs
While Gomez's numbers trend downward, McCutchen is getting hot at the right time as the Pirates surge into first place. He's posted a 1.038 OPS over his last 40 games, and the Pirates are 26-14 over that span.
At the moment McCutchen might have the perfect combination of putting together a strong season while also being the most recognizable face on a surprisingly great team. The only knock on him could be his relative lack of home runs (he's only on pace for 22), but that's probably not enough to keep him from winning the award. Buster Posey only went deep 24 times en route to his MVP last year.
David Wright, Mets
Last seven days: 4-for-12, HR, batting .333/.385/.583
Last 30 days: Batting .326/.386/.489 with three HR
Captain America has more star power than Gomez, but his MVP candidacy is a long shot for a couple of reasons: First, like Gomez, his team is out of contention and he won't get a chance to shine on a national stage down the stretch. Secondly, he's currently on the DL with a hamstring issue.
Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
Last seven days: Two starts, 14 IP, 2 ER, 10 K
Last 30 days: Six starts, 1.84 ERA, 40 K, 4 BB over 44 IP
Kershaw is having what might be a truly historic season for the Dodgers, and to a large extent it's flying under the radar. He leads the NL in ERA for the third consecutive season, and if he keeps his current 1.91 pace he'll become the first NL pitcher to work 200 innings with an ERA under 2 since Pedro Martinez in 1997.
Helping Kershaw is the fact that the Dodgers have come back from the dead to take the lead in the NL West, meaning he's likely to get a chance to make his case under the spotlight in September. Hurting him is the fact that, no matter how dominant he is, some voters won't consider him for MVP because pitchers have their own award.
Others worth considering: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals; Joey Votto, Reds; Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks.
The next tier: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies; Buster Posey, Giants; Starling Marte, Pirates; Matt Carpenter, Cardinals
In the race now, but likely to fall out: Matt Harvey, Mets (likely innings limit), Yadier Molina (knee injury)