For the first three months of the MLB season, it looked like Troy Tulowitzki was going to run away with the 2014 National League MVP award. After Tuesday’s action, the Rockies shortstop was leading the league in batting average (.340), slugging percentage (.432), on-base percentage (.603) and OPS (1.035), in addition to ranking first in WAR (5.6) and third in home runs (21). But a few developments in the last few weeks have paved the way for what could very well be a wide-open NL MVP race as we head towards the stretch run.
First off, Tulowitzki was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a hip flexor strain that will set him down at least through the end of July. Even if he comes back at 100 percent of what he was before the injury, the time off still gives the rest of the league an additional two weeks to catch Tulo in the various statistical categories in which he has been so dominant this season.
The Rockies also have the worst record in the National League, and as of Tuesday morning, they were only 1.5 games above the Texas Rangers for the worst record in baseball at 43-62. After starting the season 22-14, they’ve gone into a free fall, losing 48 of their next 69 games in a descent to the bottom of the standings. Tulowitzki has been singularly impressive, but there will be voters who believe that an MVP’s team should do a bit better than last place to garner a vote.
Here’s a look at the five men most likely to close the gap and be a factor in the NL MVP discussion as we head into August.