Here are my top five finishers for the National League Most Valuable Player along with who I picked in the preseason.
1. Buster Posey, C—San Francisco Giants
Not only did Posey have to handle a pitching staff that was the key to his club’s success, he had to function as the centerpiece of the Giants’ offensive attack and he was doing it a year after he’d sustained a devastating ankle injury in a collision at home plate.
Where would the Giants have been without him? The concept that he could’ve sat behind the plate in a rocking chair and nurtured that pitching staff based on its greatness is ludicrous. Barry Zito gets by with trickery; Tim Lincecum was dealing with extended adversity on the mound for the first time; and they lost their closer Brian Wilson—the one constant was Posey.
Statistically at the plate, he led the National League in batting (.336); led the majors in OPS+ (172); had 24 homers, 39 doubles and an OBP of .406.
2. Andrew McCutchen, CF—Pittsburgh Pirates
If the award was handed out at mid-season, McCutchen would’ve won. As much of a linchpin to the Giants as Posey was, McCutchen was more of a key to the Pirates’ woeful offense. McCutchen had a .327/.400/.553 slash line with 31 homers, a league-leading 194 hits, 20 stolen bases and good defense in center field.
3. Yadier Molina, C—St. Louis Cardinals
Molina has become an offensive force to go along with his all-world defense. Posting a 48% caught stealing rate and completely shutting down the opposition’s running game is written in ink before the season, but he also had a .315/.373/.501 slash line with 22 homers, along with 12 stolen bases in 15 tries.
4. Ryan Braun, LF—Milwaukee Brewers
I almost wish Braun had been head-and-shoulders above the other competitors to see if there would be enough fallout from his failed PED test after winning the award in 2011, and then the deft stickhandling the Players Association did to overturn his suspension.
Braun wound up leading the league with 41 homers and OPS at .987. He also stole 30 bases and has become a respectable glove in left field.
Had he been the clear MVP, he wouldn’t have won it.
5. Michael Bourn, CF—Atlanta Braves
Bourn’s defense was superlative, he stole 42 bases and had a career high 9 homers. The main reason he’s ahead of other candidates Chase Headley, Clayton Kershaw, and David Wright is that his team made the playoffs. Otherwise all have cases for the 5th spot.
My preseason pick for the NL MVP was Troy Tulowitzki.