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So who’s the favorite for NL MVP now?

Aug 5, 2014, 12:02 PM EST

Our own Drew Silva asked a good question on Twitter this morning:

It seems to me that McCutchen and Tulo were clearly the best two candidates, with McCutchen probably being the favorite given that the Pirates are winning. As for Puig: he’s a good candidate. But Vegas doesn’t have him as the favorite right now. From Bovada:

Odds to Win the 2014 NL MVP
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 4/7
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) 7/4
Yasiel Puig (LAD) 10/1

It does seem like a pitcher’s year if McCutchen doesn’t come back effectively and soon. When Justin Verlander won his MVP in 2011 his ERA, ERA+, strikeout rate, walk rate and just about everything else was inferior to Kershaw’s right now. The one area where Verlander had a clear advantage was wins — 24 — whereas Kershaw, thanks to missing all of April, is on pace for “only” 19 wins. His minuscule loss total may make up for that to some extent, but maybe not enough to sway MVP voters who tend to like starting pitchers to win 24 games or more — seriously, go look it up — in order to claim the MVP too.

Should be interesting, though.

  1. bgrillz - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:04 PM

    Definitely not Puig. I’d say Kershaw or Stanton. Voters usually don’t vote for a guy who plays a fifth of the season. But can if there is no clear standout position player.

    • drewsylvania - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:17 PM

      Why not Puig? He has as good a case as many others.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:30 PM

        Too many people are personally biased against him. Add in too many plays like last night against the Angels and the bat flipping, etc. and I just don’t see it happening. It’s not to say he isn’t deserving, but politics plays too heavily into these things.

      • drewsylvania - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        Yeah, I suppose there’s a difference between “should be the favorite” and the actual favorite.

      • adeedothatswho - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:07 PM

        Why not Hunter Pence? Very similar numbers.

      • drewsylvania - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        By both Fangraphs offensive runs and B-R oWAR, Puig is significantly better than Pence.

    • roundballsquarebox24 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:50 PM

      Hey, I’m not sure that Puig is having an MVP-type season, but I don’t think that we can say “definitely not Puig” but then say that Giancarlo is. Puig is having a great year so far, though he has struggled a bit as of late.

      Puig this year so far: .319/.404/.545, .949 OPS, 13 HR, 30 doubles, 9 triples, OPS+ of 167 (67% above league average).

      Giancarlo this year so far: .290/.389/.546, .935 OPS, 26 HR, 26 doubles, 1 triple, OPS+ of 156 (56% above league average).

      Giancarlo has struck out 128 times this year, Puig has struck out 83 times. Giancarlo has unintentionally walked 47 times, Puig has unintentionally walked 45 times. Giancarlo is 10 for 10 in stolen bases, Puig is 7 for 14 in stolen bases. In the outfield, Puig has 7 assists, Giancarlo has 6 assists.

      They are having pretty comparable seasons. Giancarlo has the obvious edge in power, and is a better base stealer, though I believe that Puig is the faster, more reckless baserunner (I have no numbers to prove this). B-R WAR gives Giancarlo the edge at 5.4 WAR so far, and they have Puig at 4.1 WAR so far. Fangraphs WAR gives Puig the edge with Giancarlo at 4.5 WAR and Puig at 4.7 WAR. I can keep going on and on with all kinds of numbers where one is better than the other at a certain thing. Who is having the better season is debatable, but I don’t see how Puig is “definitely not” a legitimate MVP candidate if Giancarlo is.

      • umrguy42 - Aug 5, 2014 at 4:07 PM

        Honest question – Stanton has more HRs, but other than that, how are you defining “edge” in power (if in any other way)? His slashes are lower, his OPS and OPS+ are lower, he has fewer doubles, fewer triples…

      • mpdavis63376mpdavis63376 - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:10 PM

        Shouldn’t the MVP be able to play both sides, offense and defense. Puig is weak or to lackadaisical too many times

      • roundballsquarebox24 - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:17 PM

        Well, he has twice as many home runs. I didn’t include it in my comment because if I include every number that I look at, my comment would never end, but a number that I like to look at to evaluate a player’s power is their power factor. This number is simply Total Bases divided by Hits. This number usually ranges from 1.3 to 2 (anything above 2 is almost unreal). Closer to 1 you are a singles hitter, closer to 2, you are a pure power hitter. For reference, Ichiro Suziki has a career PF of 1.29 and Barry Bonds has a career PF of 2.04.

        That being said, Giancarlo Stanton has a 2014 power factor of 1.99 and Yasiel Puig is at 1.69. They are both power hitters, but Stanton has more power. He hits some of the hardest and farthest balls I’ve ever seen. The reason why the other numbers aren’t higher (OPS, OPS+, etc.) is because those numbers factor in the player’s ability to actually hit the ball. Power factor only looks at how hard a guy hits the ball when he does hit it. You can strike out for 100 PA’s in a row and your PF is not affected.

        Giancarlo Stanton is a very good hitter, but he seems to be going through what Puig was going through late last season. Pitchers are feeding him a steady diet of breaking balls low and away, and he just cannot seem to lay off. He was locked in early in the season, laying off those pitches, and slapping balls the other way for base hits and RBI, but he has gone back to trying to smash everything out of the ball park and as a result has struck out a lot.

      • rje49 - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:21 PM

        Just in from MLB – if the MVP vote is a tie, winner goes to “least bat flips”.

  2. kcroyal - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:10 PM

    Jayson Hayward is second in the league in WAR, behind only Tulowitski. I think he deserves some consideration.

    • huddlma - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:22 PM

      .267 avg. I’m a Braves fan, live in ATL, and love Heyward. But he’s not an MVP. Freeman and J. Upton are better hitters despite having a lower WAR.

      I’m excited to see Heyward reach his full potential here in the next couple of seasons.

      • kcroyal - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:26 PM

        He has the second most value of any National League player so far this season. We’re not talking about the batting title, were talking about the player with the most value, and he could very well end the season with the most. There’s more to being valuable than hitting for average. Don’t you think defense and base running should be considered?

    • Paper Lions - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:33 PM

      Yeah, but MVP voters are never going to give that award to a glove first position player. The last 2 years they gave it to the best hitter in baseball despite his shortcomings in the field and on the bases, when the 2nd best hitter in baseball was also fantastic in the field and on the bases.

      Despite increase appreciation for the importance of other aspects of player contributions to winning, the MVP award is still a hitters award (usually a power hitters award)….and the voters are more likely to give it to an elite starting pitcher than a guy with a plus plus glove and a plus bat.

      Not saying I agree, but those are the people that give out the award.

      • kcroyal - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

        Agreed. I’m not saying Hayward should definitely win the award, but as the second most valuable player in the league he should be in the conversation at least.

      • Paper Lions - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:44 PM

        Yeah, I agree, he should….but people still pay relative lip service to defense. They laud it when it saves runs, but ignore it when it comes time to evaluate players. It is rare that a guy gets a major bump in reputation for his defense….and those guys usually have to be CF, SS, or catchers.

      • huddlma - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:46 PM

        @kcroyal

        Touche. However, he won’t get the votes. I DO feel that defense and base running should be considered.

        ESPN has the wrong WAR. Baseball reference. Heyward DOES have the top dWAR, but he’s not in the top 10 in oWAR.

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2014-batting-leaders.shtml

        It’s either Kershaw or Tulo’s to lose.

    • drewsylvania - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:35 PM

      Maybe so, but defensive stats are murky these days. Most of his value is tied up in dWAR.

      • kcroyal - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        Yeah and saving runs is just as important as creating runs.

      • drewsylvania - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:24 PM

        Correct, but the stats community is all over the place when it comes to defensive metrics. The reliability of defensive metrics is not great, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put a lot of stock into them. Certainly not as the major basis for someone’s MVP case.

  3. natocoles - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Not sure why Jonathan Lucroy isn’t in the conversation, other than that he doesn’t play for the (insert big city team name here).

    • natocoles - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:13 PM

      Allright, maybe Stanton doesn’t either. But still. He’s the best catcher in the National League this year, and like incredible-hitting shortstops or offensively-gifted centerfielders, those don’t just happen all the time in this era of baseball.

    • SocraticGadfly - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:32 PM

      As a Cards fan, if the Brewers hang on to win the division, especially, he’s got a good argument.

    • Paper Lions - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM

      Probably the same reason that Molina wasn’t really in the conversation the last 2 years. Under appreciation of the catcher, and the fact that catchers wear down over the year. I expect Lucroy’s numbers to slowly decline as the season progresses…..just normal wearing down of an everyday catcher, and that’ll probably keep him from ever seriously getting into the conversation.

      His monthly wRC+ has been 121, 159, 184, 87, and 79 (only a few games in Aug). He looks like the season is wearing on him the last 5 weeks.

  4. miguelcairo - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:12 PM

    Kershaw would get my vote. Just about untouchable this season.

  5. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:13 PM

    There’s a lot of baseball left to be played, and the narratives from the end of the season (“led his team singlehandedly to the playoffs!”) tend to carry more weight than those from the beginning. I think the field is more open than people may currently think.

  6. jre80 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:16 PM

    Umm….. Kershaw…… Duh

    Cardinal fan

  7. khar9 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:17 PM

    War! what is it good for? absolutely nothing. Give it to that pitcher in LA . He seems to be pretty descent.

    • blabidibla - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:51 PM

      This comment sinks to a new low.

      • drewsylvania - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:32 PM

        I hope that was a riff on “descent”.

      • blabidibla - Aug 5, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        If I have to explain the humor, I’ve already lost.

  8. huddlma - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:18 PM

    It’s gotta be Kershaw even though both he and Tulo have missed about a month of the season (Keshaw missed all of April).

    When Kershaw is on the mound, the Dodgers win. They’ve won his last 11 starts and hasn’t allowed more than 3 runs since mid-May. He also dominates Tulo and the Rockies (22IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 1 No-Hitter).

    1.71 ERA? That’s Greg Maddux stuff.

  9. mungman69 - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:19 PM

    Check Troy’s stats home and away, amazing!

    • brandotho - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:43 PM

      The splits are pretty lopsided but even on the road those numbers are terrific for his position

  10. cincinata - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:22 PM

    You people have to remember that USUALLY, pitchers do not get the MVP, but they can. The Cy is the most coveted prize for pitchers. I think when there is an equally great performance by a field player, he will get the MVP over the pitcher. I think Kershaw is almost a lock for the Cy.

    • huddlma - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:25 PM

      Verlander won in 2011 with a 2.4 ERA and 24 wins. Kershaw might not have that many wins, but he’s on track to shatter that ERA. If you’re primarily responsible for a 5th of your teams wins, that means you’re an MVP.

      • cincinata - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:08 PM

        That is usually what it takes for a pitcher to get the MVP, but it can happen.

    • Paper Lions - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:39 PM

      Well, yes….but it is possible that there won’t be such an offensive performance this year and no one on offense has been the equivalent on Kershaw pitching.

  11. brandotho - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:37 PM

    In terms of the sexy stats (HR, RBI, etc.), the last two years in the NL have been unimpressive to say the least. With Goldy, Cutch, and Tulo out, this might be the weakest MVP race in decades. Guess it has to be Kershaw (IMO, he should have won it last year)

  12. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    I don’t really understand why a player missing a month is an automatic death sentence to MVP voting. Especially since it’s more heavily weighted if the player misses time at the end of the season as compared to the beginning. I understand missing time puts you at a disadvantage, but it shouldn’t automatically knock a player out of the running. (Although yes the longer a player misses, the greater effect it should have on consideration.) This very article in fact discusses a player who missed the entire month of April. I know we all have short memories, but the MVP is supposed to be a season long award, not the “Most Valuable Player from a Playoff Team who performed especially well in August and September.”

    • brandotho - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:45 PM

      Mauer missed all of April in 09 and Hamilton missed most of September in 2010, and Trout of course wasn’t called up until the end of April and he arguably should have won in 2012

  13. tfilarski - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    Anthony Rizzo

  14. chargrz - Aug 5, 2014 at 12:43 PM

    Pretty weak group outside of Kershaw.

  15. stex52 - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:09 PM

    Kershaw missed a month early. Cutch may miss a month late. This goes back to what they said above about short memories. But Cutch shouldn’t be out of the conversation yet. What if he comes back to a red hot September?

    • huddlma - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      Whether he comes back and has a red hot September isn’t worth discussing. Right now, at this moment, he’s behind Tulo in every category. Tulo will be back before “Cutch” as well.

      http://www.baseball-reference.com/leagues/NL/2014-batting-leaders.shtml

      • stex52 - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:20 PM

        I used Cutch as the name for the argument. You are correct that Tulo could be the one. I think sometimes I tend to think less about Tulo because it’s fairly safe to assume there will be another injury before the season is out.

  16. Bob Loblaw - Aug 5, 2014 at 1:56 PM

    Kershaw should win the MVP. But who really cares who actually does win it? The BBWAA are a bunch of idiots when it comes to all of their voting, whether it is CY, MVP, or Hall of Fame. When is the internetzzzz going to forgo those losers and start up their own awards? Why not have a “blogger” MVP? Or a “blog commenters” MVP? Not just one site, but get a bunch of different blogs together and vote on these things.

    Make it happen.

    • roundballsquarebox24 - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:35 PM

      It’ll be the BBBAA. I like it!

  17. stlouis1baseball - Aug 5, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    Right now…Kershaw. Everyone else is playing for 2nd. I can’t really see where anyone else is even in the picture. If Milwaukee wins the division…you gotta’ consider Lucroy. I mean…dude is for real.

    • mpdavis63376mpdavis63376 - Aug 5, 2014 at 5:14 PM

      Lucroy only because Molina is out for season.

  18. sportsfan18 - Aug 5, 2014 at 6:15 PM

    So Kershaw could/might win the MVP…

    Hmm… he is the best pitcher in the game… but he missed some time.

    Isn’t Johnny Cueto still in the lead for the Cy Young award?

    Would be interesting for Kershaw to win league MVP but not the Cy Young award.

    I mean he’s a pitcher who wouldn’t be the best pitcher that season by not winning the Cy Young and yet he could win the league MVP…

    I don’t see that happening this season.

  19. scoochpooch - Aug 12, 2014 at 9:50 AM

    Pitchers shouldn’t win MVPs, that’s why they have their own award. Maybe an exception can be made for a starting pitcher with 30 wins or an ERA under 1.00, or 100 saves but otherwise no.

    Tulo = King of Coors, garbage everywhere else.

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