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Tuesday, May 17, 2011
The one-fourth of the season NL MVP ballot

By Dave Schoenfield

Let's move over to the Senior Circuit (does anybody call it that anymore?) and do our quarter-pole MVP ballot.

Joey Votto
Reds first baseman Joey Votto has a .472 on-base percentage and is hitting .345.
1. Joey Votto, Reds: Any way you slice it, Votto has been the best player in the National League so far. He leads both the FanGraphs and Baseball-Reference versions of WAR thanks to his .345/.472/.556 (BA/OBP/SLG) batting line and excellent defense at first base. He has reached base in 39 of his 40 games and is tied for the NL lead in runs scored.

2. Lance Berkman, Cardinals: He's batting .344/.443/.689 with 11 home runs, providing a huge boost to the St. Louis offense.

3. Ryan Braun, Brewers: Like Berkman, he doesn't bring much value with the glove, but the bat has been dominant. Braun is hitting .307/.395/.595 with 12 home runs, 30 runs and 33 RBIs. He ranks sixth in the NL in OBP and second in slugging, and has added seven steals in seven attempts.

4. Matt Holliday, Cardinals: And to think he missed time following an appendectomy. He leads the league with a .373 average and 13 doubles while boasting a .462 OBP. He doesn't run like he did a few years ago when he stole 28 bases but plays a solid left field.

5. Matt Kemp, Dodgers: He's slowed down after a hot start, but his overall numbers remain strong. Outside of Andre Ethier, he's not getting much support in a weak Dodgers lineup, so he ranks only ninth in RBIs and is out of the top 10 in runs.

And now our LVPs ...

1. James Loney, Dodgers: A first baseman who hits like a utility infielder. He's hitting .230 with one home run, and despite following Kemp and Ethier in the lineup, he has just 12 RBIs thanks to a .167 average with runners in scoring position.

2. Aubrey Huff, Giants: So good in 2010, so bad in 2011. He's hitting .220 with a .280 OBP, which is bad enough, but the defense in right field was terrible, forcing a move back to first base.

3. Raul Ibanez, Phillies: Maybe the worst defensive player in the NL, and he's hitting only .223 with three home runs.

4. Chris Johnson, Astros: Nobody expected him to hit .308 again, but he's 100 points less than that with an execrable 34/4 SO/BB ratio and poor fielding metrics to boot.

5. Jose Lopez/Ian Stewart, Rockies: Can we combine players? Rockies third basemen are hitting a combined .148 with a .443 OPS.