Prado has three hits in comeback — and why not N.L. MVP?

Martin Prado singles in a run in the seventh for his second of three hits Tuesday night. He's deserving of league MVP honors. (AP photo).

Martin Prado singles in a run in the seventh for his second of three hits Tuesday night. He's deserving of league MVP honors. (AP photo).

After missing 16 games with a fracture in his right hand, Martin Prado returned to the Braves’ lineup Tuesday night and led the team with three hits, three runs scored, a double and two RBI.

“Don’t you just want to punch him right in the stomach?” cracked teammate Matt Diaz.

Here’s another thought: How about just handing him an MVP trophy?

There’s little question that Prado is the Braves’ most valuable player. When he returned from the disabled list with a fracture in his right pinkie and led the Braves in their 10-2 victory over the Washington Nationals, he started at third base (vacated by the injured Chipper Jones) and batted third (also Jones’ spot). The significance was kind of obvious.

If this guy doesn’t get consideration for National League Most Valuable Player honors, something is wrong. Should Prado continue to hit at his normal pace, he’ll still have good chance to lead the National League in hits and win the batting title, despite missing 16 games. If he continues to bat third, he’ll certainly have a chance to significantly add to his RBI total (though he won’t likely crack the top 10).

Unfortunately, MVP voters seldom factor defense and versatility into the voting. But no player is more valuable to his team than Prado is to the Braves. The favorites for the award are probably are St. Louis’s Albert Pujols (.315, 30 homers, 86 RBI) and Cincinnati’s Joey Votto (.322, 28, 79). Prado is at .318, 13 homers and 45 RBIs.

“For me, you should throw a guy like into the MVP voting because of his defense and his hitting, and I know what he means to us,” manager Bobby Cox said. “But they’re looking for a guy with 45 homers and 140 RBIs and [hitting] .320. But I know he’s our MVP.”

Told of Cox’s comments, Prado said, “That’s not something I think about. I’m just happy we won and I could get a few hits.”

His hand still hurts. Prado jammed his finger in his final at-bat and he expects it to be sore “for a couple of weeks.” He was worn out after the game but you wouldn’t know it by the numbers. After a ground out and a fly out in his first two at-bats, he strung together three straight hits: an RBI double in the sixth, a run-scoring single in the seventh and another single in the eighth, scoring all three times.

“I’m tired,” he said. “My body is falling apart. I felt like I could keep myself in shape. I was running, taking ground balls. I knew I would be out two weeks so I was trying to do something. But a game is different. A couple of games and hopefully I’ll get used to it.”

Yeah. Like he’s a slacker now.

Here are a few more post-game comments on Prado.

♦ Diaz: “He said, ‘Don’t expect me to look like Chipper.’ We don’t. He’s much better looking than Chipper. Seriously, I don’t think anybody expected anything less from him. He goes on a rehab assignment [in Gwinnett] and gets a hit his first time out. He raises the bar so high.”

♦ Batting coach Terry Pendleton: “The guy can just flat out hit. Even when he was out, he did whatever he could do with one hand just to keep active.”

♦ Catcher Brian McCann: “He’s got one of the best swings you’ll ever come across. His bat stays in the zone for so long that he can handle so many different pitches. He could wake up Christmas morning and get two hits.”

Should he be given MVP consideration?

“Absolutely,” McCann said. “We’re not where we are without him. He’s definitely been our MVP.”

So what are your thoughts? Is Prado an MVP candidate?

Instant re-blogs (add fries for a meal)

We’re LIVE, as Braves try for something new — an early win

Falcons and Patriots put aside NFL’s secret society (for a limited time)

Countdown: Bikini-ball, Petrino’s death touch and ‘Real Housewife of Flowery Branch’

Hey, here’s an idea: Manny to Braves (kidding, sort of)

Follow me on Twitter @JeffSchultzAJC and Facebook.com/JeffSchultzAJC

121 comments Add your comment

Herschel Talker

August 18th, 2010
12:10 am

Schultzie:

What is it with you and Bradley? Alternating journalist night? Why don’t you two each take a week at a time rather than this one on one off stuff?

HT

MitchC

August 18th, 2010
12:11 am

Jeff, while you make a convincing argument, I will be shocked if Prado is NL MVP.

I say this for a couple of reasons: The first one is what Bobby said: They usually look for a 45 homer guy.

While we know TP won the NL MVP with 19 homers in 1991, that was a different time. Also, the Braves went worst to first that year, and within an inning of winning the World Series.

Also, Albert P is the marquee name. People look at him, and go “Okay, Albert, he hits 40 homers a year, and will one day likely be in the Hall of Fame.

Regardless what Martin Prado does for our Braves, he’s not… big enough.. in name.

I just dont see it happening, sorry.

IPayForAOL

August 18th, 2010
12:14 am

Love Prado, but McCann > Prado. And McCann is more valuable to the team than Prado.

Idot

August 18th, 2010
12:21 am

I don’t think so. I believe that Prado has been the MVP for the Braves in 2010.

Kevin Sheets

August 18th, 2010
12:27 am

You have to lead the league or be close to the top in something to be MVP. When TP won the MVP all the power hitters couldnt hit for average. TP was 14th in hrs and batted .19 while the highest ba of the 13 hitters above him was .301. Also led the league with 187 hits and was the man on a worst to first team.

If Prado leads the league in BA and breaks 100 runs, both possible and no one hits too many hrs and rbis which is likely, then i would be for it. But with no hitters going to high in numbers this might be the year that a pitcher whens MVP.

Kevin Sheets

August 18th, 2010
12:31 am

* tp batted .319 not .19

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Marty Sullivan, Jeff Schultz. Jeff Schultz said: Martin Prado makes his comeback with 3 hits. And why not him for NL MVP? http://bit.ly/cdco8r [...]

Big Man

August 18th, 2010
12:45 am

Albert Pujols will get MVP because he will of course have excellent numbers but with about 13 more RBIs he will set the record with first ten years in the league hitting .300 30 homers and 100 rbis. He will break his tie with Lou Gehrig. That will get it for him. Prado is the team MVP by far.

povox

August 18th, 2010
1:02 am

If Prado is the team MVP, and the team in question advances in the playoffs… c’mon. Next question.

Big Man

August 18th, 2010
1:07 am

If Prado is the team MVP, and the team in question advances in the playoffs… c’mon. Next question.

Then Pujols still gets MVP. Look at his numbers and the history behind it. This will be his third in a row.

Jeff Schultz

August 18th, 2010
1:23 am

Hersh — Is the every other night thing confusing you?

Art Vandelay

August 18th, 2010
1:30 am

Dustin Pedroia won the MVP in 2008 with a .326 average, 17 HR, 83 RBI, 118 runs and 20 stolen bases while playing only at 2B. Prado won’t reach Pedroia in RBI or steals, but he’s on pace to tie him in HR and score about 110 runs. It could be argued that his versatility more than makes up for any statistical difference since he’s started games at 1B, 2B and 3B this year. Prado’s made a total of six errors this season, which is the same as Pedroia had in ‘08, so safe to assume he’ll probably end up with only seven or eight all year, despite playing three positions (so far). He’d certainly get strong consideration for my vote.

Dr. Warren

August 18th, 2010
1:30 am

Credit the Braves for hanging in there. Credit the Phillies for seemingly never losing. Are they tough or what?

Ross

August 18th, 2010
3:09 am

Of course I will never get an answer to this question because yesterday’s blog is like yesterday’s sunlight – but here goes: Cox has noted that Ankiel has an amazing arm – and we’ve seen it here. I’ve seen it when he was a pitcher in St. Louis, before he melted down psychologically. Is there any chance the Braves would see how he throws from the mound, rather than the outfield? I’ve always had the sneaking feeling that one day he would return to pitching. Believe me, it was something else. He was 2nd for ROY in 2000.

danlee

August 18th, 2010
3:20 am

Prado isn’t even going to be mentioned in the MVP talks unless:
1. Wins the batting title
2. Leads the league in runs
3. Braves win the East
The bitter truth is there isn’t much chance for Prado to win the MVP, not because he doesn’t deserve it, but because no one gives him enough attention. I mean, Prado is having a season that blows Chase Utley out of the water, but Utley was still voted the starter for the all-star game. Further, both Utley and Prado came back from the DL today and all you hear on ESPN is “UTLEY’S BACK!”. If Prado can’t get more attention than someone like Chase Utley he has no chance of winning the NL MVP =/

Speaking of tragic injustices: Jonny Venters. He has the best ERA amongst all NL relievers, he’s pitched tons of innings, yet outside of Atlanta you’ll never hear his name in rookie of the year talks. You better believe it would by different if it said “New York” across his chest

[...] Prado has three hits in quip — as well as because not N.L. MVP? | Jeff … [...]

shmoe

August 18th, 2010
4:25 am

absolutely prado should be MVP! there’s not a doubt in my mind he should be. however, it will go to sentimental favorite joey votto for not being selected to start in the all star game, or pujols, because he’s pujols (and great).

Big Man

August 18th, 2010
4:43 am

Joey Votto has some excellent numbers, no sentiment needed. What I think will hurt Prado is himself. He hit so well in the one hole that it cut down on some of his numbers. If the Braves had a true lead-off man (base stealing threat) and had Prado in the 3 hole he would be amoung the league leaders in RBIs. It will be interesting the last 43 games.

Conyers Braves Fan

August 18th, 2010
4:52 am

Jeff: Prado nor any other Braves player will win a MVP award at this
point in time because the national media (led by ESPN) seem to
view Atlanta teams in a negative way. For example, Jim Rome of
ESPN made a comment Monday that there should be no doubt that the Phillies will overtake the Braves and win the NL East. A few months ago, Tim
Calishaw (a sportswriter who appears frequently on the ESPN show
Around the Horn) stated that the Hawks who had 53 regular season wins
“had no business being in the playoffs”.

Big Man

August 18th, 2010
4:59 am

They deem Atlanta as one of the worst cities for sports. Charles Barkley says things like this on a regular basis. A lot of times they say we do not deserve the Hawks because of the attendance. That is why the big names in Basketball do not even consider the Hawks. They would love to live in the city but the marketing is not there.

ClassicHawks

August 18th, 2010
5:25 am

He is Our MVP, Kinda Like TP Back In Our First Run. I don’t think hit power numbers are enough to win this year however. GOOOOO BRRAAVES! (This Team Is Very Special!)

Jeff F.

August 18th, 2010
6:00 am

Is Prado working with his Dad or high school coach? How is his swing so good then?

TommyP

August 18th, 2010
6:12 am

Prado has NO CHANCE at NL MVP. C’mon, Jeff. You and Bradley are nothing but hyperbole these days.

His versatility makes him a better MVP candidate? You have to be kidding me? Maybe for team MVP but league MVP? No.

erick

August 18th, 2010
6:18 am

That may be the only good thing I have ever seen petrino do!

john d

August 18th, 2010
6:23 am

Come on Jeff, Versatility?? You want versatility? His name is Infante. He’s just as valuable to this team as Prado!

curtis jones

August 18th, 2010
6:25 am

Prado? For MVP? But if memory serves correctly, this is the same Prado that the Braves HOF manager deemed unfit for a starting role for more than 2 years, while Kelly Johnson stunk up the joint.

You know, the same HOF manager who believes that Infante is not worthy of starting each day….well unless his “real” starters are hurt. Kind of like Brooks Conrad…definitely not a starter.

Now, Troy Glaus: THERE’s a starting lineup kind of guy! If the Braves have a 7-run lead, he will smash a double or homer. But if it’s a tie game, his jersey number should be 4-6-3.

Grumpy

August 18th, 2010
6:31 am

Joey Votto wins. No contest. Both Votto and Prado play for division leaders. Votto has a higher batting average, more HR, more RBI, higher slugging % and a higher on base %. If the Reds win the division and Votto’s numbers stay this good, hand him the trophy.

Jake

August 18th, 2010
6:36 am

I agree with you, Jeff. There’s no question he’s the MVP. It’s not even close.

Never thought it would happen....

August 18th, 2010
7:16 am

No. Joey Votto deserves it.

BBrown

August 18th, 2010
7:20 am

Jeff, I totally agree!! Prado is a hard nosed player that can flat out hit and field. No doubt Pujols and Votto are stars. However, give me a versatile player like Prado and build around him. Some critized Cox for not playing him sooner. Perhaps, Cox knew something that was setting Prado up for success with a little more fine tuning before getting the starting nod. Looks like Brooks Conrad is in the same boat as Prado was two years ago.

Terry Lightningberg

August 18th, 2010
7:22 am

Where should we all gather to celebrate Martin’s MVP award — The Prado?

F-105 Thunderchief

August 18th, 2010
7:22 am

Yes, he should definitely be in the discussion. He’s a great overall player. It’s just amazing to me that anybody ever let Kelly Johnson play in front of him. Pfft. What was up with that? And, I’m a huge Bobby Cox fan.

AlG

August 18th, 2010
7:44 am

For a guy to come off the DL, and after just one rehab game jump in with three hits and some good glovework–you can’t make a story like that up. Prado is true MVP material by any real standard of what MVP means.

Rich

August 18th, 2010
8:01 am

In my opinion, Prado is the team’s MVP so far, but for the NL? Not even close. Votto, or Pujhols should get it.

Larry

August 18th, 2010
8:01 am

We are a more balanced and better team with the combination of Prado and Infante in the lineup than Prado and Chipper. Should this team falter in coming weeks it will not be because of the now unimposing and oft injured Chipper, it will be because of Bobby’s managing.

Still can’t believe he didn’t call for a bunt or two to move some runners over last night. He got lucky this time which will only reinforce his infamous “wait and watch” approach which has cost this team so many times to less talented opponents in the post season.

In the end,
it never matters,
with Bobby Cox,
as the manager!

1-14 all time in the last game and series of the postseason.

Sam

August 18th, 2010
8:03 am

No, not NL MVP, not even close, but definitely a consideration for Braves MVP along with Hudson and McCann.

Willy

August 18th, 2010
8:04 am

Prado would be the thinking man’s MVP, but people respond to glitter.

Sam

August 18th, 2010
8:05 am

IF you ever had to trade Prado or McCann, which one would you trade? Sorry, not McCann. NEVER!!
That’s your Braves MVP question answered right there.

Kudzu

August 18th, 2010
8:05 am

Utley rejoins the Phils 0-5; Prado rejoins the Braves 3-5; Utley on front page of ESPN.com….Prado no where to be found…ESPN blows!

Let's Go

August 18th, 2010
8:10 am

I love the way Prado has carried the Braves at times this year but my vote this year would go to Joey Votto over Albert Pujols since Votto has little protection in the Reds line-up. Pujols is having another great season but he has Matt Holliday hitting behind him and Matt is having a heck of a season too.

Larry

August 18th, 2010
8:11 am

Guys, what you may not remember is that when ESPN was first launched one of their chief competitors for national sporting interest was the “Super Station,” WTBS, that was broadcasting Braves games all over the universe. Strategically, and to gain market share, they avoided the Braves coverage and this attitude still permeates today.

To hell with ESPN!

The Mick

August 18th, 2010
8:14 am

Prado had done a great job this year but Infante is no slouch .I’m thankful he is on the Braves. He is an everyday player.He has earned it..
What else does he have to do to prove himself. Speak English?

Dr. Warren

August 18th, 2010
8:19 am

I find it hard to imagine some ESPN executive telling his writers and on-air staff, “Everyone, avoid talking about the Braves. When you do, just say negative things.” Every city outside of NY and LA imagines there’s a bias against their team. Check the blogs like this in other towns and see.

Ben in Albany

August 18th, 2010
8:26 am

After the injustice delt to Andruw Jones in 2005(51 homers-128 RBIs) I’ve given up any hope that a Brave will ever win an MVP award again. The national press sometimes doesn’t even act like there is a team in Atlanta most of the time.

Daniel

August 18th, 2010
8:27 am

MVP for the team? Yes. MVP candidate? Sure, he’ll get some third place votes. MVP? Not a chance.

Booyah

August 18th, 2010
8:29 am

Hey Mick – Prado does speak English and speaks it well. In fact, he interprets for Infante when needed…

Pepe Frias played here.

August 18th, 2010
8:33 am

I am so sick of ESPN. Even if the braves were on , i dont know if i would watch them. I used to like to listen to mike and mike in the morning until they started kissing phila.’s butt. When they got Oswald , Mike Greenberg said the race was over and the Phillies will bypass the Braves by labor day. Oh i so want the Braves to prove them wrong.

The Doktor

August 18th, 2010
8:38 am

I’ve been saying this since May, Martin Prado IS the catalyst for the 2010 Atlanta Braves. Only now is it becoming apparent; but, one man does not a team make. As they demonstrated last nite tho, when they’re smart and patient as a TEAM they can be very impressive with the bats. They just need to find that consistency and cohesiveness they had earlier this season. IF they put all that together with the pitching they’re getting from their staff, it’ll be a real interesting October here in Atlanta… ;-)

GT Baseball

August 18th, 2010
8:41 am

He’s having an amazing year, but Votto and Pujols are just too much. Pujols is going to go .300, 30, 100 10 years in a row, all the while being pitched around in every big situation (despite Holliday, they still do it). Guy is incredible. Could be the best RH hitter of all time. Votto is also more deserving than Prado. Seems like every time the guy goes deep, its in the 7th inning or later. That’s a stat I would like to see – can anyone find that? Out of Votto’s 28 bombs, how many came in the 7th inning or later?

David P

August 18th, 2010
8:41 am

Because there are many other players in the NL with much better numbers than Prado. Stop smoking crack.