With the season being just over a month from conclusion, talk has started to heat up over the post season awards. Giancarlo Stanton’s career year has put him squarely in the National League MVP race. He has been by far the best offensive player in the N.L., leading the circuit in home runs, RBI, On Base Percentage, and Slugging Percentage. He’s also added 10 stolen bases, made several highlight reel plays in the outfield and the Miami Marlins are in the thick of the playoff race. Seems like a slam dunk, right? Maybe not.
A post at Fox Sports examined the American League MVP race using a somewhat novel but simple method, so I was interested to see how the N.L. race would look using the same method. The author, Rob Neyer, simply took the two most widely used versions of Win Above Replacement (WAR) and added them together to determine the most deserving MVP. There are many debates about the merits of the WAR statistic, but it should at least give an indication of the top candidates. Here are the results for the N.L. :
There’s been plenty of mention of Clayton Kershaw for MVP, but it is always followed by the debate about whether a pitcher should be considered for the award since they have their own award in the Cy Young. Usually a pitcher MVP is partly the result of a lack of worthy position player candidates, which is obviously not the case this year with Stanton. However, using this method Kershaw has overwhelmed the competition leading Stanton by a wide margin.
In Stanton’s favor, I will point out that adding the two versions of WAR causes duplication of the values, so the real difference between them is much closer than the Total WAR column would indicate. Also, the MVP is still voted on the by the writers, some of which are old school and will be very reluctant to consider a pitcher for the award and even more reluctant to base their voting on the WAR stat (see Mike Trout v. Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013).
Of the other candidates, we can probably eliminate Jason Heyward and maybe Jonathon Lucroy who derive much of their WAR value from the defensive side of the ball. Troy Tulowitzki is out of the season and Andrew McCutchen has been in and out of the lineup lately due to injury.
This is looking like it will be a very interesting 2 horse race with the added debate of pitcher vs. hitter value thrown in. My guess is that Stanton takes it in a hotly debated battle.