Handicapping the Awards – NL MVP Version

Much like the AL MVP race, the National League MVP race has no clear favorite at this point in the season. Unlike the AL, however, the race isn’t nearly as deep or star studded. Only two NL players have a 4.0+ WAR, while every player but one I highlighted in the AL has a WAR above 4.0. Also, this is the first time in a couple seasons the NL has even had a MVP race because of Albert Pujols’ complete domination the past couple years.

The Canadian bacon favorite

Joey Votto – 1b – Cincinnati Reds (4.2 WAR)

In a close battle with David Wright, Joey Votto has the slight edge. They have near identical WAR’s (4.2 to 4.1 for Wright) so it practically is a toss-up and you have to look deep at the numbers to really pick one over the other. One reason Votto is the favorite is the offensive production. Leading the league in OBP, SLG, wOBA, and wRC+, Votto has a line of .314/.422/.589/.433/169. So yeah, let’s call him the best offensive player in the NL in 2010. It really isn’t even that close either- Albert Pujols is second to Votto in wOBA, trailing by a mere 22 points. Votto may be a first baseman, so he should be expected to have better numbers than Wright, a third baseman, but Votto’s numbers are still very impressive. As far as defense is concerned, Votto has been a good defender in the past and in 737 innings thus far, he has a 4.0 UZR and +7 DRS. What truly separates Votto from Wright, for me, is the clutch factor. When it comes to the MVP, you should reward those valuable players who also do perform well in critical situations. Votto’s 2.99 WPA is the third best mark in the NL and a lot better than Wright’s. Votto’s clutch score is also better than Wright’s. In a close race that can change daily, Votto is my current favorite. Neither player should slow up in the second half, so it should be fun to see them slug it out- literally.

FG rest of season projection: 271 PA, .301/.388/.534/.400

FG updated final season numbers: 639 PA, .308/.407/.565/.420

The co-MVP favorite and the rest of the second tier

David Wright – 3b – New York Mets (4.1 WAR)

After a slow start to the season, following a so-so 2009 season, David Wright had many Mets fan concerned. But that alarm had no time to settle in as Wright soon went into warp drive. Wright is hitting .314/.392/.532/.396/149 and has been good with the glove posting a 3.3 UZR and +3 DRS in 771 innings. In 2007 and 2008 Wright had MVP caliber seasons, and is in the midst of another one. Votto may being having the better year offensively, but Wright is near equal in terms of value because of his position. WAR adjusts for position and despite that, Votto is still .1 of a win better, a negligible amount. So it comes down to the clutch factor. As I already mentioned, Votto has a better WPA and clutch score. That was my deciding factor when all else was equal. But Wright can outright win the MVP with a better second half, plain and simple. I mean, they are dead even  as it stands right now. All he has to do is perform slightly better and the future Hall of Famer will be locking up his first MVP.

FG rest of season projection: 303 PA, .308/.395/.510/.397

FG updated final season numbers: 674 PA, .311/.393/.522/.398

Matt Holliday – OF – St. Louis Cardinals (3.9 WAR)

Has anybody heard Matt Holliday’s name this season, or is it just me? I know he is overshadowed by Albert Pujols in St. Louis, but the dood has been having ANOTHER great season and I’ve heard no mention of it. Many people considered the contract he signed with St. Louis in the off-season a horrible deal for the club, but so far he is living up to the money. He is hitting .300/.373/.529/.390/147 on the year. Those numbers are actually worse than his career averages, but in a year where offense across the board is down, those numbers are still among the NL leaders. Defensive statistics have always loved Holliday, and 2010 is no exception. In 721 innings he has a 9.2 UZR and +5 DRS. By the end of the year, he could be adding double digit run value in the batting and fielding component of WAR, something Votto and Wright won’t be able to say. However, Holliday has a lower WPA (0.93) than the two favorites, and has a pretty bad clutch score (-0.94). That’s going to really hurt his chances of winning the award. In a really SSS of high leverage PA, he has a wRC+ of 72. Take that sample size with a grain of salt, but his production thus far has dipped in big spots.

FG rest of season projection: .305/.384/.527/.399

FG updated final season numbers: .302/.378/.528/.397

Ryan Zimmerman – 3b – Washington Nationals (3.7 WAR)

I don’t buy into the belief that the MVP has to be on a winning team, which is why I have Zimmerman listed. So far he is hitting .294/.383/.526/.388/142 which is a tad behind David Wright. However, is the far superior fielder. He’s been great since entering the league and in 657 innings this season, he has a 6.4 UZR and +16 DRS. Another advantage he has over Wright is the offensive production in the game’s biggest spots. His WPA is 1.94- better than Wright, and he has a 0.08 clutch score. That’s not great by any means, but it’s better than Wright who has a negative score. If Zimmerman outproduces Wright with the bat in the second half, the two could flip flop in their current spots as Zimmy has the defensive and clutch advantage. The title for best third baseman in the NL between these two should be another exciting race for years to come.

FG rest of season projection: 288 PA, .288/.362/.510/.378

FG updated final season numbers: 621 PA, .291/.373/.518/.386

The Machine

Albert Pujols – 1b – St. Louis Cardinals (3.4 WAR)

Why didn’t you eliminate them, Albert? is a question his cyborg self must asking, with “them” referring the NL field of MVP candidates. In 2008 and 2009 he seemingly ran away with the award, but that has not been the case in 2010. In fact, he hasn’t even been the best first baseman. But he is Albert Pujols so I’m not counting him out. So far he is hitting .308/.416/.576/.412/161 which are the best numbers in the NL outside Joey Votto. If his second half mirrors his 2009 production, he is going to win the MVP.

FG Rest of season projection: 301 PA, .328/.439/.620/.455

FG updated final season numbers: .317/.426/.595/.440

Prediction:

I think Joey Votto wins the award, especially if the Reds win the division. However, I believe when all is said and done, Albert Pujols will have the best numbers and thus should be the MVP. So I guess you can say whoever wins between those two depends on whose team wins the NL Central. While I didn’t make their case here, after Joey Votto and Albert Pujols, I believe Josh Johnson and Roy Halladay are next in line to win the MVP. I know people don’t like for pitchers to win the MVP award, but they are simply amazing and have been just as valuable if not more than valuable than my second tier candidates of David Wright, Matt Holliday, and Ryan Zimmerman.

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One Comment on “Handicapping the Awards – NL MVP Version”

  1. John Says:

    Pujols is defintely a machine!


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