Just catching up on my reading, and came across Jayson Stark’s column in the latest Baseball America. Stark makes his mid-season choices for MVPs, Cy Youngs, LVPs (Domonic Brown, Billy Butler) and Cy Yuks (Sergio Romo, Ubaldo Jimenez). Of the big award choices, three are obvious: Mike Trout, Adam Wainwright — though he’s now been passed by Clayton Kershaw — and Felix Hernandez.
National League MVP, though? This one surprised me some, as Stark chose Giancarlo Stanton. He leads his case with a celebration of Stanton’s numerous moon shots. Which strikes me as irrelevant, however entertaining. And he finishes with something largely irrelevant, too:
Stanton led the National League in home runs (21), home run ratio (one every 16.2 at-bats, most homers with runners on base (13), RBIs (63) and a couple of our sabermetric favorites: secondary average and win probability added.
"I know it sounds like I’m being a homer," Marlins general manager Dan Jennings said, "but he ought to be the MVP and he should win a Gold Glove."
Why, yes, he does sound like a homer. If a National League right fielder not named Jason Heyward doesn’t win the Gold Glove, the award should just be abolished. Stanton’s got a great arm and makes most of the plays, but Heyward’s in a different world. Statistically, anyway.
But should Stanton be MVP? I appreciate Stark’s willingness to consider a player on a non-contending team. Looking just at the numbers to date, your five best players in the league are Troy Tulowitzki, Yasiel Puig, Andrew McCutchen, Stanton, and Heyward. Hunter Pence belongs in the discussion, too. Maybe even Jonathan Lucroy, if you buy into pitch-framing.
When Stark wrote his column, I would have placed Stanton third or fourth. But since then, Tulowitzki and McCutchen have both gotten hurt, which should elevate Stanton in the minds of the voters.
But they don’t like players on non-contending teams. So now it’s probably Puig’s to lose.
Addendum: Yes, of course Clayton Kershaw too. Right up there with Puig.