First-quarter awards

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to our LeBron-free zone. You'll find no talk of that Kings-Blackhawks series here. And this is not the place to shop for your latest Johnny Manziel tidbits, either.

No, sir. Your attention, please. You can turn your gaze away from all of that, because it is now safe to start paying attention to the 2014 baseball season.

That occurs every year at this time, once all 30 teams have finally played their first 40 games -- the line of demarcation we used to know as baseball's "quarter pole." Except the last time I wrote one of these recaps of the season "at the quarter pole," I got reprimanded by horse-racing aficionados, who reminded me that in the horse world, the "quarter pole" rolls around with a quarter-mile to go, not a quarter of the way into the race.

So thanks for the semantics lesson. We'll hereby no longer refer to the "quarter pole" in this column. What we will do, though, is announce that we're now deep enough into the season that it's permissible to take a long look at what this first quarter of the season has brought us. Ready? Here we go:

NL MVP of the first quarter: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Only one man has ever won an MVP award while playing his home games a mile above sea level. That would be Larry Walker in 1997. Only two other Rockies -- Dante Bichette in 1995 and Matt Holliday in 2007 -- have ever gotten more than one first-place vote in any election. So it's clear as a sheet of Saran Wrap: There's an altitude bias among MVP voters that "60 Minutes" should probably look into. Nevertheless, anyone who would pick any NL player other than Tulo for this honor needs immediate acrophobia therapy. OK, I know he's hitting .552/.627/1.030 at Coors and .247/.375/.519 when he returns to earth orbit. Whatever. He leads the entire sport right now in Wins Above Replacement, all three sabermetric triple crown categories (AVG/OBP/SLG), runs scored and total bases. He leads the NL in home runs and times reaching base. And he's a spectacular defender who tops all NL infielders (at any position) in defensive runs saved. In other words, he has been the best player in baseball -- at any altitude.

AL MVP of the first quarter: Josh Donaldson, Athletics

 
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