Cubs infielder Javier Baez

Jake Roth/USA Today Sports

Ostrowski: Baez Garnering NL MVP Consideration

Baez's resume fits the profile of recent winners.

Joe Ostrowski
July 17, 2018 - 1:45 pm

(670 The Score) Cubs infielder Javier Baez isn’t the favorite to be the National League MVP, nor should he be. As as the starting second baseman for the National League in the All-Star Game on Tuesday night, Baez is undeniably a top-five contender for the coveted award.

On Monday, Baez’s odds were completely out of whack, and bettors noticed. He started the day at 65-1 and landed at 35-1. 

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Here locally, we get the pleasure to witness Baez’s impact as an elite defender, his wreaking havoc on the base paths and his destruction at the dish on a daily basis.

End-of-season awards are won by ranking among baseball’s best in numerous statistical categories. Baez fits the bill. Here's his standing in nearly a dozen categories in the NL:

1st: RBIs (72), SB% (90)

3rd: Triples (6), extra-base hits (50)

4th: Slugging% (.566), total bases (194), Fangraphs WAR (3.4), offensive WAR (3.5)

5th: Doubles (25), runs (61), position player WAR (3.7)

Baez is also on pace for a 33-home run, 31-stolen bases season. Remember when being a member of the 30-30 club was an incredible achievement? It still is, but many teams have realized that the risk of an injury or getting thrown out to swipe a bag just isn’t worth it.

If the 25-year-old Baez can join the 30-30 club, he would be the first player to do so in six seasons. Mike Trout and Ryan Braun were the last to accomplish that feat in 2012.

The Cubs have the NL’s best record at 55-38 and run differential at plus-114, and Baez has picked up the slack when Kris Bryant was sidelined and Anthony Rizzo was going through lengthy slumps.

Six different position players have been named the MVP over the last three seasons. Recent voters have showed a willingness to go with a different name and an everyday player, as long as there’s a worthy candidate.

This race is shaping up like it did for the NL last year, when Giancarlo Stanton edged out Joey Votto by two points and six different players received first-place votes. 

Baez is worth a bet, even at 35-1. I wouldn’t hesitate until the number gets inside 20-1. If Baez continues to be the Cubs' catalyst, the money will continue to come in, and he’ll be viewed as a top-five candidate and not a top-15 one.

Joe Ostrowski co-hosts Hit & Run with Barry Rozner on Sundays at 9 a.m. and is 670 The Score's weekday morning update anchor. Here's a link to his weekly sports betting podcast. The most recent "Early Odds" predicted the second half of the MLB season with ZiPs creator Dan Szmborski, while a preview of the British Open is coming next. Follow Joe on Twitter @JoeO670.​