Allen Craig has put together a historic season at the plate, making him one of the most dangerous hitters opposing pitchers want to face with runners on base and the game on the line. However, the chances of Craig winning the National League MVP award are slim to none.
And I say that with all due respect to Craig, who is one heck of a ballplayer with freakish skills at the plate and in the field.
Allow me to explain my reasoning.
First, I’ll throw out some of Craig’s ridiculous offensive numbers this season. The All-Star is most dangerous with runners in scoring position, as his .454 mark heads all of baseball. He's also garnered 83 RBI and a .500 on-base percentage, tops in the NL.
Wait, there’s more.
With two out and runners in scoring position, Craig is even more dangerous, batting .448 (second in MLB, first in NL), with 38 RBI. With the bases juiced, Craig is batting an unheard of .700 with 11 runs scored, a pair of doubles, a home run and 30 driven in.
For the season, the 29-year-old slugger is hitting .315 with 13 homers, 97 RBI and a .373 OBP.
Not too shabby for Albert Pujols’ replacement. Craig's numbers alone appear worthy of winning the MVP.
Now, allow me to bring you back to reality.
The list of top contenders for NL MVP isn’t as long as some think, but Craig isn’t perched on the canopy, either. In fact, Craig finds himself behind Pittsburgh icon Andrew McCutchen and Cardinal teammates Yadier Molina and Matt Carpenter.
I’ll get to Molina and Carpenter in a second, but first, I want to explain why Craig won’t beat out McCutchen for the honor.
McCutchen is having a monstrous season in Pittsburgh. He ranks in the top five in batting average, OBP, slugging percentage and OPS. Not to mention, the three-time All-Star and 2012 Gold Glove winner ranks first in WAR (7.6).
Additionally, Pittsburgh is the story of baseball this season. The Bucs will more than likely make the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, a span that included seven last-place finishes in the former NL East and current NL Central.
Aside from McCutchen and the Pirates, Craig faces an uphill battle against two of his teammates, Molina and Carpenter, who are also enjoying fantastic seasons. Molina ranks fifth in the NL with his .318 average, while Carpenter is sixth at .316.
To make matters worse, Craig suffered a sprained left foot after rounding first base against Cincinnati on Sept. 4, and continues to rehab from the injury. The longer Craig is sidelined, the smaller the chances of him impacting the NL MVP race.