If you are anything like me you enjoy close races. The divisional races have been a fun thing to watch this year but some of the teams are starting to pull away from their opponents. Roughly have the divisions have really tight races and the other half have 6+ game leads. I tend to pay closer attention to the close races, like the 0.5 game lead in the AL East. Another close race that I am following is the National League MVP race and it’s anybody’s race to win at the moment but Colorado Rockies star shortstop Troy Tulowitzki could very well be holding the trophy.
Yes, Tulowitzki plays for a team that is 10 games below .500 and 13 games out of the NL West lead, but that should not be a factor in deciding on who should be the league MVP. Tulowitzki is currently hitting .305/.373/.548 with 25 homeruns, 32 doubles, 9 stolen bases, an OPS+ of 135, wRC+ of 141, and wOBA of .393. And please do not bring up the fact he plays in Coors field. He has hit .309/.378/.567 at home and .300/.367/.529 on the road. He is not Carlos Gonzalez.
As you can see, the man is an offensive force to be feared and he plays arguably the most difficult position on the diamond outside of catcher. And by the way, he plays shortstop better than almost anybody in the game. He ranks first among all shortstops (5th overall) in dWAR with +1.5 and first among all NL shortstops with +10.7 UZR. To put it simply he is the best offensive and defensive player at shortstop. Tulowitzki also ranks 2nd in the NL in fWAR with +6.1 and 3rd in rWAR at +5.4.
One could easily make a case for Justin Upton who leads the NL in fWAR with +6.4 and is hitting a similar .305/.378/.561 with 25 homeruns and 34 doubles and has 18 stolen bases but plays right field and although UZR loves him at +12.3 but dWAR has him at -0.6. If he’s somewhere in the middle then he loses a bit of value. From what I have seen he is probably closer to +5 UZR which would still put him in the MVP discussion. But the biggest problem I have with Upton is his home/road split. He is hitting a robust .359/.429/.658 at home and a pedestrian .250/.324/.461 on the road.
Matt Kemp is another who has a legitimate case. He leads all in rWAR with +7.1 and it’s not even close with Ryan Braun 2nd at +5.7 rWAR. Kemp is hitting .320/.394/.577 with 28 homeruns, 24 doubles, 32 stolen bases, an OPS+ and wRC+ of 170, and a wOBA of .419 but his defense is bad at -6.5 UZR but dWAR has him at +0.5. If you believe he is above average on defense in center then you need to get your eyes checked. He’s much closer to his UZR total than his dWAR total. Even with poor defense I could still see him winning the MVP and I would be ok with that.
Shane Victorino has an impressive +5.7 fWAR and +4.9 rWAR and is hitting .312/.388/.541 with 13 homeruns, 20 doubles, 12 triples, and 15 stolen bases with an OPS+ of 150. wRC+ of 158, and wOBA of .407, and plays a plus center field with a +0.5 dWAR and +6.5 UZR. There are so many good cases for the award right now. You can even throw Ryan Braun, Prince Fielder, Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto, and if you like pitchers for MVP then Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee have legit cases.
There is no clear cut winner for National League MVP at this point, and that is that way I like it. I prefer to watch the race go down to the final week but if I was forced to pick a winner today it would be a very close call between two guys on losing teams named Troy Tulowitzki and Matt Kemp with Tulo most likely taking home the prize. Anything can happen, though, with a month and a half left of regular season baseball.
Filed under: Digging Deep - Analysis Tagged: | Andrew McCutchen, Carlos Gonzalez, Cliff Lee, Colorado Rockies, Joey Votto, Justin Upton, Matt Kemp, MVP, Prince Fielder, Roy Halladay, Ryan Braun, Shane Victorino, Troy Tulowitzki