One year ago the Chicago Cubs were in the midst of a heated playoff run and were looking like one of the top teams to beat, but were lacking one thing; a catcher.
After shipping off troubled catcher Michael Barrett earlier in the year and using a revolving door of Jason Kendall and Koyie Hill at the backstop, the Cubs elected to call up Triple-A Iowa prospect and Pacific Coast league MVP, Geovany Soto. In his brief September stint, Soto was able to claim the starting position at catcher and become one of the lone bright spots for the Cubs in a playoff series loss.
Fast forward to this past Sunday night and Soto has experienced much of the highs and lows a catcher can experience in his career.
After struggling for a period of time in April in which he struck out in eight straight at bats to Sunday night catching the first no-hitter by Carlos Zambrano for the first Cubs no-no in more than 36 years. Soto has cemented himself as the front runner for the National League Rookie of the Year award, but has also taken great strides towards National League Most Valuable Player.
As you look atop the list of would be MVP candidates you see many of the usual names such as Ryan Howard and David Wright. Sure, not all of Soto's numbers are comparable with the others, an example is Ryan Howard has more RBI and home runs, but his average is only .248 while Soto's is .285. Sure David Wright has a higher batting average, but he has had almost a hundred more at-bats then Soto.
The one thing that puts Soto in the discussion with these candidates is what he has done behind the plate. As a young catcher he has been asked to manage a pitching staff with such pitchers as Carlos Zambrano and Ted Lilly with their 15 wins as well as Ryan Dempster with his 16. As he has also helped their relief pitchers Carlos Marmol and Kerry Wood become one of the best setup/closer duo in the National League.
His on field leadership and ability to connect with his staff has shown the trust they have put in Soto and the results have brought the Cubs to be the best team in the National League.
Geovany Soto isn't crunching the numbers in his head or try to figure out the best way to make him a leading candidate for MVP, he is kneeling down, throwing some signs between his legs and helping his team win ballgames. If you asked Soto to choose between an MVP award his rookie season or a World Series Championship with the Cubs - I think the answer would be a no-no brainer.