Has Cubs catcher Willson Contreras put himself in the race for MVP?

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CHICAGO, IL - AUGUST 06: Chicago Cubs catcher Willson Contreras (40) hits a home run during the game between the Washington Nationals and the Chicago Cubs on August 6, 2017 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

CHICAGO – A red-hot start for the defending World Series champions cooled just a bit during six games at the Friendly Confines this past week.

The Cubs lost 2-of-3 to the Diamondbacks and 2-of-3 to the Nationals to slow up their strong beginning to the second half as they head out West for six games. Their lead in the National League Central has been trimmed to a half-game by the Brewers as the race for the playoffs looks more and more like it’s heading to the end.

Yet there is one player who failed to cool off during the weekend at Wrigley Field – in fact his success only grew during a memorable half-dozen games at home.

Willson Contreras for National League MVP? If he keeps playing this way he could enter into the conversation.

The catcher blasted two more homers on Sunday afternoon in what appeared to be a Cubs victory through the sixth inning on Sunday. The bullpen collapsed in the final innings which led to a 9-4 loss to Washington but Contreras continues to be the highlight for the team.

In the month of August – which encompassed the entire homestand – the catcher hit .455 with five homers and 13 RBIs in six games. It was enough for Contreras to be named the National League Player of the Week and continues his incredible second half of the season.

Since July 14th, the first game of the second half against the Orioles, Contreras is batting .346 with 10 homers and 29 RBIs with a slugging percentage of .782 and an on-base percentage of .414. These numbers have raised his season average to .281 with 21 homers and 70 RBIs.

Such a strong start to the second half has some wondering if Contreras could be a player in the National League Most Valuable Player race. Most likely he’ll have to play catch-up considering the success of the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman (.308, 24 homers, 76 RBIs), Bryce Harper (.326, 28 homers, 81 RBIs), and the Diamondbacks’ Paul Goldschmidt (.323, 25 homers, 89 RBIs).

Even if he can’t follow up his teammate Kris Bryant’s MVP win from last season, Conteras’ quick start figures to only increase the Cubs’ odds of a shot for a third-straight playoff appearance and a repeat title.