Is Giancarlo Stanton National League MVP? Marlins Slugger Has Three Games to Pass Roger Maris

Giancarlo Stanton's pursuit of Roger Maris is going down to the final days of the Major League Baseball season.

The race to be named National League MVP is about as tight.

Stanton was back crushing balls on Thursday evening, sending two enormous home runs to left-center field for Nos. 58 and 59 of a season for this or any other age. Statcast measured the second, a ridiculous moonshot that bounced off the back row and windows of Marlins Park, at 118.8 miles per hour, the fourth-fastest in the history of exit velocity being recorded.

.@Giancarlo818 is on the doorstep of 60, and he's knocking hard.

No. 59 clocks in at 118.7 mph -- the 4th-hardest HR in #statcast history!

— #Statcast (@statcast) September 29, 2017

That the Marlins hammered the Braves 7-1 was of little significance; for months Marlins games, at least for neutral observers and probably for those inside the park too have been about Stanton's push towards two landmarks. There's 60 home runs and then Maris's mark of 61, bettered only by men who have an asterisks next to their greatest feats. Stanton has a long weekend left to pass Maris: the Marlins end their season with three more games against the Braves at home, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Passing 60, let alone Maris, would surely be enough to make Stanton National League MVP in most other seasons. Counting against him this year, though, is the stone-cold fact that the Marlins aren't going to the playoffs, and the unusual number of credible contenders lining up just behind him. ESPN ticks them off: Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks, a playoff-bound team; Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon of the playoff-bound Rockies; Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds. Votto has a case although the Reds will finish a firm last in the National League Central. J.D. Martinez's slugging feats have garnered as much press, if not more, than Goldschmidt. Arenado and Blackmon may cancel each other out, and they play in rarefied air in Denver. Marlins Park is the 25th-hardest place in the league to hit home runs.

For the Marlins there is only Stanton, still aiming for the back windows of Marlins Park even as the season dies for any team with a losing record. Three more home runs in three games could present an unassailable MVP case.