This year’s National League Most Valuable Player race could be one of the tightest in years. With Giancarlo Stanton putting up massive home run numbers, Paul Goldschmidt, Cody Bellinger, Bryce Harper and Kris Bryant all having big years to lead their teams to the playoffs, and Joey Votto playing out of his mind, it’s a crowded field even without Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon of the Colorado Rockies.

Despite the intense competition this year, a prominent national MLB voice says he’s giving his vote to Arenado.

Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci says his first-place vote is going to the Rockies’ third baseman.

For Verducci, who’s been with SI since 1993, the vote really comes down to Arenado and Goldschmidt. Here’s how he chose between the two:

Arenado (35, 126) and Goldschmidt (36, 120) have nearly identical home run and RBI totals. Goldschmidt has more runs and a better adjusted OPS. Arenado has more hits and total bases. It’s very close.

How to decide? Arenado gets the edge because he was much better in September as each team tried to nail down a playoff spot (by OPS, .975-.663), is one of the game’s top defensive infielders, and as good as Goldschmidt was in the clutch, Arenado was even better. He hit .388 with RISP, second only to Daniel Murphy, with an MLB-best 1.266 OPS in those spots, the highest such number since Miguel Cabrera in 2013 (1.311). That is phenomenal.

Oh, yes, there is this, too: this Rockie actually hit more home runs on the road than at home. His road OPS was a respectable .883, 17th best in the league.

Of course, and quite rightfully, Verducci did give himself some leeway with his vote – suggesting that his mind could be changed through the final week of the regular season should something drastic happen.

That’s a powerful voice lobbying for Arenado, and one who sees through the Coors Field bias to look at Arenado’s credentials not just this season but as they compare historically.

The Rockies host the NL West Champion Dodgers for a three game series (Friday-Sunday) to conclude the regular season. They are seeking their first playoff appearance since 2009 and currently lead the race for the final NL Wild Card spot. A big weekend for Arenado with so much on the line could lock up Colorado’s second MVP ever; Larry Walker won the award in 1997.