So far, the American League MVP race can be summed up in two words: Miguel Cabrera.
Seriously, there’s not anybody outside of Chris Davis who even comes close to Cabrera’s production. He leads baseball in average (.370), OBP (.463), wRC+ (198), WAR (4.8), RBIs (75), and is second to only Davis in slugging percentage (.644.) He has a legitimate chance to win back to back triple crowns, which is just scary.
The NL MVP race, however, is much more interesting. While the usual suspects (Troy Tulowitki, Carlos Gonzalez, David Wright, Yadier Molina, and Joey Votto, among others) are doing what they always do, there has been an influx of young and unheralded talent this season. Before I discuss the 5 players that I think are seriously in the running, I want to talk about some of the young and relatively unknown guys who are having a huge impact on their teams so far.
To start off, Matt Carpenter. How good has St. Louis been this season? Sitting with the best record in baseball, the Cardinals owe a lot of that success to leadoff hitter Matt Carpenter. Carpenter has been worth an outstanding 3.7 WAR so far, and has hit .322/.403/.472 with 6 homers and 56 runs scored on the season. Matt Carpenter is one of the key cogs in a Cardinals lineup filled to the brim with talent.
Everth Cabrera, who has been worth 3.6 WAR, has also been a pleasant surprise for the Padres. Cabrera is hitting a solid .305/.382/.418 with 31 stolen bases on the season. He has been a demon on the bases, and puts pressure on opposing hitters.
Jean Segura, meanwhile, has been out of this world. He’s hit .336/.369/.529 on the season, with 11 homers and 23 stolen bases. Segura was shipped to Milwaukee in the deal that sent Zack Greinke to Los Angeles (the Angels, that is) at the deadline last season. Segura plays a good defensive shortstop and will be a mainstay in the Brewers’ lineup for years to come.
To begin my list of 5 potential MVP Candidates, I’ll start with a Milwaukee Brewers outfielder. No, not Ryan Braun, but Carlos Gomez. After signing a big 3 year deal worth 24 million dollars, Gomez has set the world on fire. He leads the NL in WAR at 4.2, and has hit a whopping .313/.355/.570 0n the season with 12 homers and 15 stolen bases. The fact that he’s an elite defensive center fielder only helps his cause.
Second, the Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki. Tulo has hit .347/.413/.635 on the season, with 16 homers and 51 RBIs after missing virtually all of 2012 with an injury. The fact that Tulo produces like this from the shortstop position only ups his value. Tulowitzki is arguably the best shortstop in baseball when he’s healthy, and he’s healthy this year. Look out.
Third, the Mets’ David Wright. The 2013 NL Home Run Derby Captain may soon have another accolade to add to his season. He’s hit a solid .309/.390/.553 with 12 homers and 41 RBIs. He’s also kicked in 12 stolen bases to boot. Captain America has lived up to the huge contract that he signed for 8 years and 138 million so far.
Fourth, Yadier Molina. What can you really say about Molina that hasn’t been said already? He’s a wizard on defense, cutting down nearly 50% of runners that have tried to steal on him over his career. He’s recently added offense to his game, and he leads the NL in batting average with .353. His surprise power from last season hasn’t shown up yet, as he’s only hit 5 homers, but regardless, he’s a threat to win the award.
Finally, as a dark horse, Joey Votto has a chance to take home the award again. All Votto has done this season is hit .326/.440(leads NL)/.517 with 13 homers and 37 RBIs. If Votto wants to win the award, he’ll have to improve on his average with RISP and 2 outs, which sits at below .200. If Votto can start coming up clutch like he usually does, he has a legitimate chance to take home the award.
So, to recap, my 5 NL MVP candidates this season are Carlos Gomez, Troy Tulowitzki, David Wright, Yadier Molina, and Joey Votto. From a stats standpoint, I think Gomez deserves the award. However, in terms of best chance to win, I’d say that’s either Molina or Votto, as they play for 2 of the best teams in baseball and also have big name recognition.