The National League MVP award is as hard to project in 2014 as it was last season. The feel-good vibes of the Pittsburgh Pirates’ run to the playoffs ultimately set Andrew McCutchen apart from the rest of the field. Save for that kind of story in 2014, voters will be left to consider the nuances of the worthy but not necessarily overwhelming cases of a number of players.
For Harper the issue is consistency. By now we are well-familiar with the high ceiling he possesses. Can he sustain top production over the course of the long season, and will the Nationals meet the lofty expectations being heaped on them?
For Molina the issue is the fact that it can be difficult to quantify the best parts of his game. Receiving pitches, blocking pitches, managing the game, and so on. The statistics we have to appreciate those skills are limited, and while Molina’s offensive numbers are outstanding, they aren’t quite so good that they tip the scales in terms of award voting.
For Ramirez the issue is health. He was one of the five best hitters in all of baseball last year when he was on the field. Can he stay in the lineup for the Dodgers over the course of the season? If he can, Ramirez might be the man to beat.
McCutchen and Posey carry as heavy a burden as any players in all of baseball. The Pirates and Giants, respectively, are nowhere without those guys. If either of those teams make a run, McCutchen and Posey will be serious candidates. Goldschmidt is an absolute machine, a beast if he is on your fantasy baseball team. Will the Diamondbacks matter enough for people to notice his huge production? Either way this guy is going to be a top-10 MVP candidate for years to come.
The Winner: Bryce Harper
As far as preseason predictions go the Nationals’ bandwagon is crowded, and for good reason. Part of the hype is their potent rotation, but the high expectations for Harper are part of it as well. He will put up monster numbers and the Nationals will pose a worthy threat to the Los Angeles Dodgers in the National League playoff picture.