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Sandy Alcantara Deserves Serious NL MVP Consideration

I don’t believe pitchers should be disqualified from the MVP race. I think that’s a bit of a silly argument. At the same time, for a pitcher to win an MVP, that particular pitcher needs to do something we haven’t seen in a while. Justin Verlander in 2011 pitching 251 was a rare form of dominance, as was Clayton Kershaw’s 1.77 ERA in 2014, in which he won NL MVP. We’re seeing something similar this year from Sandy Alcantara.

For the record, I believe Paul Goldschmidt will ultimately will the National League MVP. He’s having a phenomenal year for the Cardinals, and he may be solidifying a Hall Of Fame resume. I’ll have no problem with him taking home some hardware this season, but Sandy Alcantara is having one of those transcendent seasons that you see only once in a blue moon by a starting pitcher. 

His numbers, compared to the other starters in baseball, are borderline hilarious. He’s currently thrown 173 innings, which is six more than the number of innings that last year’s NL Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes threw a season ago, and 20 more than any other pitcher in Major League Baseball has thrown this season. He’s tossed six innings or more in 20 of his 24 starts and seven or more in 17. His ten starts of 8 innings or more are far and away the most in baseball. 

By comparison, the Detroit Tigers as a team have eight starts of 8 innings or more since the start of the 2018 season. Alcantara currently leads the NL in ERA, starts, complete games, complete game shutouts, innings pitched, batters faced, ERA+, and WAR. That’s not just Cy Young good. That’s MVP good.

I’ve written a lot about Alcantara this year, and a big reason for this is because I feel like he’s sadly getting a bit overlooked. He’s going to run away with the NL Cy Young (as he should), but unlike Verlander in 2011 and Kershaw in 2014, Alcantara doesn’t have the luxury of playing for a big market team amid a pennant chase. If he were pitching for the Dodgers or Astros, he’d be getting much more attention. It’s interesting to see a pitcher who feels stuck out of time. 

I think that if Alcantara wanted to strike out 300 a year, he’d do it with relative ease. His stuff is that good. But his efficiency is the biggest reason he’s been so good this season. Hitters are pounding that sinker into the ground early in counts, allowing Alcantara to go deep into ballgames. Considering we live in the era of openers and five-inning starts, the fact that we have a pitcher like Alcantara, who is not only going deep into games but shutting down lineups, is a testament to his dominance. He’s not just the best pitcher in the National League; he may be the best player.