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Award Watch: NL MVP

July 19, 2012
  1. Andrew McCutchen (Previous rank: Not Ranked) – It’s been a while since we visited the NL MVP race, and then the Pirates were just 25-22 and we all figured they wouldn’t be above .500 for long. McCutchen also had only hit eight homers and while having a good season wasn’t having a great, otherworldly season. Now he is. And the Pirates have kept winning. Since May 30 the Pirates are 26-14 and McCutchen is hitting .410 with a 1.225 OPS. He’s got 14 homers and 66 hits in those 40 games. His numbers from the past 40 games translate to a 57-homer, 162-RBI, 268-hit season. He’s simply been on fire. He now leads all players in average, at .369; slugging percentage (.649); OPS (1.072); OPS+, which adjusts for park and league factors with 100 being average, at 194; and total bases at 216. Even if the Pirates fall off and fail to make the playoffs or end with a winning record McCutchen should/deserves to be a top three MVP finisher.
  2. Joey Votto – (PR: 2) – Although he’s out for several weeks with a knee injury Votto still belongs in the MVP discussion. He’s having the best season of his career on a division-leading team, leading the NL in doubles (36), walks (66), OBP (.465, which would be the best in baseball since 2008) and intentional walks (13). He should return soon enough to continue his great season and be in contention for the MVP at the end of the season.
  3. David Wright – (PR: 3) – Just like McCutchen and Votto Wright’s also having the best season of his career. He’s on pace to set career highs in average, OBP and slugging, putting up career bests in walk and strikeout rate for a full season. Wright’s success is due partly to an increase in groundball rate, which is is a career-high 44.3 percent, and a decrease in fly balls, which only happen in 32.5 percent of his at-bats, a career low. This explains why Wright’s average and BABIP are so high, since fly balls are easier to turn into outs. Wright’s always been a high-BABIP hitter so the .351 average should be sustainable.
  4. Ryan Braun – (PR: NR) – It’s not Braun’s fault the Brewers are three games under .500 and probably not making the playoffs. When all is said and done Braun will probably end up with better overall numbers this year than he did last year but won’t come close to winning the MVP just because Prince Fielder isn’t on his team anymore and the Brewers didn’t make the playoffs. But Braun leads the NL in homers with 26 and could have a career-high OPS at the end of the season.
  5. Yadier Molina – (PR: NR) – There are a lot of players having very good seasons, but after the top four here there are a lot of guys that are jumbled together. So I’ll go with one of the most well-rounded players in the game. Molina plays almost every day at the most demanding position. He shuts down the opponent’s running game, and as his career path goes he’s getting better offensively every year, with this year being his best. He’s already set a career high in home runs with 15 this year. He’s one of the smartest players in the game, as well as one of the most clutch players. There are very few, if any, players I’d rather have at bat with the game on the line than Yadi.
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