The race for the NL MVP Award 2014

The regular baseball season is drawing to a close which means it’s that time of year where sportswriters and yours truly can make educated predictions for the awards this year. Here at Sports with Neil and Friends, we believe in sabermetrics so we will be primarily using that to measure our contenders, but we promise not to disregard the human element of baseball. Still, sabermetrics are king.

Also, keep in mind we do not consider pitchers for the MVP awards. If we did, Clayton Kershaw would have an even bigger trophy case and that’s just no fun. The picks for the National League will be mine.

THE CANDIDATES:

Andrew McCutchen, CF Pittsburgh Pirates: McCutchen has managed to post similar numbers to last year when he won the MVP award. In 567 plate appearances, he’s compiled a .311 AVG with 22HR and 74 RBI. His sabermetric stats are just as impressive with a .224 ISO, .405 wOBA, and 5.5 WAR. He also has the benefit of playing for a team competing for the playoffs. He did miss some time on the DL, but he’s done well coming back to help his team stay in the hunt. Since his DL trip, he’s hit .315 with a .383 wOBA and an excellent ISO of .219. Not too bad for a guy who had to recover from a fractured rib earlier this season.

Josh Harrison, 3B Pittsburgh Pirates: Yeah I know: “Another pirate? Josh Harrison??” Hear me out on this. Aside from his solid .315 AVG he’s posted decent numbers in BABIP (.349), wOBA (.374), and ISO (.198). This season he’s epitomized the term ‘utilityman’ by playing different positions both in the lineup and on the field. He’s listed as a third baseman, but he’s also played 2B, SS, LF, and RF. Harrison has posted decent DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) stats on all positions he’s played. His glove along with his bat has made him a key part of the Pittsburgh’s success this season as his 4.2 WAR will tell you. His numbers aren’t the most mesmerizing but they are consistent and his value cannot be questioned.

Giancarlo Stanton, RF Miami Marlins: Of all the numbers associated with Stanton, the one that could end up being the most important and cost him the award this season are his team’s win-loss record. In spite of the 37 HR, 105 RBI, and .270 ISO it may not be enough. Even a .405 wOBA and WAR of 5.5 might not get him the nod. He is near or at the top of nearly every batting statistic so his production is unquestionable. The debate becomes does Stanton deserve the award even if he’s playing for a team out of the playoff race?

Jonathan Lucroy, C Milwaukee Brewers: The talented catcher leads all NL position players in WAR (5.8). Yes, he beats Stanton and McCutchen in this category. His true value may come from his fielding numbers. Evaluating catcher fielding is one of the more debatable and frustrating things among saberists. However, his 11 DRS is the highest among NL catchers and he leads the league in other fielding sabermetrics among catchers. Oh, and his bat isn’t half bad either with a .323 BABIP, .368 wOBA, and 133 wRC+.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks: Goldschmidt suffers the same problem as Stanton. The only difference is Goldschmidt’s team is even worse than Miami. But Goldy himself has produced similar numbers to last year minus some dingers and RBIs. His wOBA (.402) and wRC+ (154) are identical to his 2013 numbers and though his WAR (4.2) isn’t at high as it was last year he’s still a valuable commodity no matter where he plays. If his team was playing even a little better his stats may be even higher due to more support. But, his numbers are his numbers and that’s just fine because they show he’s still a force to be reckoned with.

THE PICK

My pick for the 2014 NL MVP Award is Giancarlo Stanton. Yes, he’s out for the remainder of the season and hasn’t been playing for a playoff team. I get that. But, his power numbers are impressive, especially considering this has been a pitchers season. Even with the injury he will finish at or near the top of almost every offensive category. Oh, and he gave us a reason to pay attention to the Marlins this year.

All stats provided by fangraphs.com

All stats are current up to 9/9/2014

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