Willson Contreras? Cubs are already influencing Cardinals history

How 2022 Cubs could affect Cardinals, NL story originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The rain in St. Louis on Sunday couldn’t wash away the cold, hard, wet fact that the Cardinals have crushed the Cubs this season, and their 12-6 record against the Cubs entering Sunday’s season finale is a big part of of their greatness. lead in the National League Central.

So what? So the Cubs front office wasn’t even trying to win this year? Fair enough.

But who knew the Cubs would have such a big influence on all the success going on at the top of the division by Labor Day, just by showing up to play the Cardinals?

In fact, the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado have done enough clobbering of the Cubs themselves — particularly MVP favorite Goldschmidt — that the Cubs have at least some influence on some history that might be made in the league this year.

If Goldschmidt and Arenado go 1-2 in the MVP race this year, it will mark the 25th time in current MVP format history (1931-present) that one team has had the top two finishers, 14th in the National League — and the first time happen after more than two decades.

Through Saturday, Goldschmidt and Arenado ranked 1-2 in WAR (per Baseball Report), in the league, 1-2 in OPS, 1-6 in batting, 1-4 in slugging and 1-3 in RBI.

For their part, the Cubs have allowed more of Goldschmidt’s 34 homers (seven) than any other team, to go along with a 1.047 OPS against the Cubs this year. One more homer against the Cubs Sunday and Goldschmidt would tie the Cardinals’ single-season hitting record on a list that includes Stan Musial, Rogers Hornsby and, of course, Albert Pujols.

Arenado, the NL Player of the Month for April and August, had a more muted lead against the Cubs this year, including a .290 average, three homers and an .848 OPS against them.

And all this before the Cubs even officially sent Willson Contreras to free agency and possibly into the arms of the Cardinals.

If Goldschmidt and Arenado finish 1-2 in MVP voting this year, it will be the fourth time the Cardinals have done it – also twice in the 1940s and again in 1967 (Orlando Cepeda, Tim McCarver).

In case anyone is wondering, the Cubs are not one of five NL franchises to claim the top two spots in MVP voting in a season.

Not that the rare feat would necessarily give the Cardinals an edge in winning the World Series, if history is any indication.

While half of the previous 12 teams with the top two MVP votes have won the World Series, only two of the six have done so during the division’s, championship playoff era (post-1968): The Reds the 1976 Orioles (Joe Morgan, George Foster) and the 1983 Orioles (Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray).

The last three to do it all came up short: 1989 Giants (Kevin Mitchell, Will Clark), 1990 Pirates (Barry Bonds, Bobby Bonilla) and 2000 Giants (Jeff Kent, Bonds). The last two didn’t make it there.

Postseason award votes must be received prior to the first playoff game.

As it seems obvious, the stakes were much higher when the regular season determined the World Series qualifiers. Ten of those 18 teams with a 1-2 finish won the World Series — including two years in which a team with a 1-2 MVP finish beat another team with a 1-2 finish (1960 Pirates over the Yankees, 1956 Yankees over the Dodgers).

All three of the Cards’ previous 1-2 MVPs came before the division’s playoff form and both of those three World Series wins.

Incidentally, three teams in history finished 1-2-3 in MVP voting, all before the division’s playoffs began, and only one of the three won the World Series: the 1966 Orioles (Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell ).

The other two: The 1941 Dodgers (Dolph Camilli, Pete Reiser, Whit Wyatt) and the 1959 “Hitless Wonders” White Sox (Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, Early Wynn).

The full list of teams with 1-2 MVP finishes (bold face denotes World Series win):

  • 2000 Giants (NL) — Jeff Kent, Barry Bonds

  • 1990 Pirates (NL) — Barry Bonds Bobby Bonilla

  • 1989 Giants (NL)—Kevin Mitchell, Will Clark

  • 1983 Orioles (AL)—Cal Ripken Jr., Eddie Murray

  • 1976 Reds (NL) – Joe Morgan, George Foster

  • 1971 Track and Field (AL) — Vida Blue, Sal Bando

  • 1968 Tigers (AL)—Denny McLain, Bill Freehan

  • 1967 Cardinals (NL)—Orlando Cepeda, Tim McCarver

  • 1966 Orioles (AL)* — Frank Robinson, Brooks Robinson, Boog Powell

  • 1965 Twins (AL) — Zoilo Versalles, Tony Oliva

  • 1962 Yankees (AL)—Mickey Mantle, Bobby Richardson

  • 1961 Yankees (AL)—Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle

  • 1960 Yankees (AL)—Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle

  • 1960 Pirates (NL) — Dick Groat, Don Hook

  • 1959 White Sox (AL)* — Nellie Fox, Luis Aparicio, Early Wynn

  • 1956 Yankees (AL)—Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra

  • 1956 Dodgers (NL) – Don Newcombe, Sal Maglie

  • 1955 Dodgers (NL)—Roy Campanella, Duke Snider

  • [1945Tigers(AL)—HalNewhouserEddieMayo[1945Tigers(AL)—HalNewhouserEddieMayo

  • 1944 Tigers (AL)—Hal Newhouser, Dizzy Trout

  • 1943 Cardinals (NL)—Stan Musial, Walker Cooper

  • 1942 Cardinals (NL)—Mort Cooper, Enos Slaughter

  • 1941 Dodgers (NL)*—Dolph Camilli, Pete Reiser, Whit Wyatt

  • 1934 Tigers (NL)—Mickey Cochrane, Charlie Gehringer

*-The team had a 1-2-3 MVP finish.

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