We have now hit the 100 game mark in the MLB season, at least for most of the teams. At this point of the year, the pennant races start really shaping up, and we start getting a clearer picture about how well some players and teams are doing. And with this time of year, it is also time to start thinking about the frontrunners of the individual awards. With that being said, I want to take a look at who is in shape to take home the NL MVP.
In this section, we see the players who have an outside shot of being named MVP. Most likely, anyone in this list will not win the award. However, there is still a slight possibility. They can get really hot, or their team can make a huge run at the end of the season, pushing them more into the limelight. These players are:
Joey Votto 1B Cincinnati Reds: The Reds have a great record so far, and are in fine position for at least a Wild Card. For his part, Votto is having a nice, solid season (16 HR, 45 RBI, 70 R, .317/.434/.503.) However, it is exactly that—a solid season. He’ll have to really heat up over the next two months to be considered.
Carlos Beltran RF St. Louis Cardinals: The Cards have the best record in the National League. Beltran is defying Father Time (and bad knees) by having a very good season while keeping himself in the lineup everyday. His numbers are impressive (19 HR, 55 RBI, 53 R, .305/.339/.528) and would possibly have him in consideration if he was the best player on the Cardinals. However, at this point he is probably the 3rd best player. Only a torrid end to the season and a drop-off from others on his team pushes him up.
Troy Tulowitzki SS Colorado Rockies: Tulo was having a monster of a season when he went down with a broken rib in mid-June. He was able to recover in time to play in the All-Star Game. However, he missed roughly a month of playing time. He still has stellar stats (17 HR, 55 RBI, .333/.399/.603 in 69 games), but he’d probably have to improve on that already scorching line if he wants to be considered now. He’ll also have to get the Rockies to play above-.500 ball the rest of the way and be in contention for the AL West title.
Buster Posey C San Francisco Giants: The reigning MVP is having another good-to-great season (14 HR, 59 RBI, 28 2B, .319/.389/.529.) Normally, this would put him among the contenders for the award, especially since he is a catcher. Unfortunately, the Giants have not played well this season in defense of their World Series Championship. Unless they jump back into contention, Posey won’t be considered a frontrunner for the award.
#5 – ALLEN CRAIG
The reason I am placing the Cards first baseman at #5 on this list is not because of his ‘normal’ stats (10 HR, 79 RBI, 23 2B, 53 R, .335/.379/.492.) I am placing him here because of just how insanely good he has been with runners on base. The man is an absolute run-driving machine. So far this season, with runners in scoring position (on 2nd base and/or third), Craig is hitting an astonishing .490! With two outs and RISP, he is hitting .467. That is just insane. You keep waiting for those numbers to normalize, but he just keeps on doing it. And just for reference, last year with RISP, he hit .400.
#4 – CARLOS GONZALEZ
CarGo is putting together a monster year at the plate. He seems to be at the top of many offensive categories right now. He leads the NL in HR (26), SLG % (.603) and OPS (.970). He is in the top 10 in runs scored (71), RBI (67) and stolen bases (19.) He looks to be on pace for a 30/30 season. The main thing that is keeping the Rockies outfielder from the top spot is his team. Colorado is currently 5 games behind the Dodgers in the AL West and 5 games under .500. Contend for, or better yet, win the division title and he might grab the award.
#3 – ANDREW MCCUTCHEN
The Pirates centerfielder is having a very good, if not quite great, season. Yet, I have him as 3rd on this list above other players with better stats. Now, it isn’t like his numbers aren’t good enough that one can argue he belongs on this list (14 HR, 55 RBI, 60 R, 27 2B, 21 SB, .307/.378/.501.) And, McCutchen is one of the best all-around players, if not THE best, in the National League. The main reason I have him at this spot on the list is if the Pirates finally break their curse and make the post-season for the first time since 1992, McCutchen will get a lot of MVP votes. He is the best player on the team, and there will be a certain sentimental vote going his way due to the story. He could potentially win the award despite not having as good a season as he had last year, when he finished 3rd in the voting.
#2 – PAUL GOLDSCHMIDT
The big Arizona first baseman has had a breakout season this year. While the Diamondbacks figured he was going to be a future All-Star and put up some good power numbers, I don’t think they were ready for him to be an MVP-candidate this quickly. His numbers are pretty impressive (21 HR, 80 RBI, 63 R, 25 2B, .314/.398/.553.) He currently leads the league in RBI and is the top 5 in HR, OBP, SLG% and OPS. And the Diamondbacks are currently battling the Dodgers for the AL West lead. If Goldschmidt can maintain his pace and the DBacks stay a contender, he will have to be considered one of the frontrunners for the award.
#1 – YADIER MOLINA
The Cardinals catcher is right now the lead dog in terms of winning this award. While his offensive numbers are quite good (7 HR, 52 RBI, 29 2B, .335/.383/.484), it is the overall package that Yadi brings that makes him the favorite right now. He is, hands down, the best defensive catcher in the majors. He’s very likely the best defensive PLAYER in the majors. He handles a pitching staff like nobody else and is essentially another manager when he’s out there. When you consider what he brings to a team behind the plate, he is already an MVP candidate regardless of what he does with the bat. Add in very good to great batting stats, and the possibility of him winning a batting title, and you have yourself the NL MVP.