10 Most deserving MLB MVP candidates
5) Bryce Harper, Nationals
It turns out that Harper’s 2015 may have been the real thing and 2016 was the fluke. He’s hit 29 home runs and is batting .326, and he remains a quality defender in right field. Harper’s in the same situation as Mike Trout, though — injury is limiting him. He hasn’t played since August 12 with a knee injury, and the Nationals still aren’t exactly sure when they’ll be getting him back. Said injury is probably going to cost him any chance at the award.
4) Joey Votto, Reds
Rightly or wrongly, players from winning teams usually get the nod in MVP voting. That means the lowly status of the Reds will probably prevent Votto from being a serious candidate for the award. It shouldn’t, though. He’s a 30-homer hitter for the first time since 2010, is getting on base at a .450 clip, and is still reliable over at first base. This is his best season since the first and only time he won MVP seven years ago. He deserves some plaudits for the year he’s having, even if he’s on a bad team.
3) Nolan Arenado, Rockies
Some voters will likely punish Arenado because of the Coors Field effect, but the guy is still posting elite numbers on a potential playoff team. He’s a .300 hitter with 30 home runs, a doubles machine, and a guy who’s already driven in over 100 runs and could get in the 130-140 range before the season ends. In addition, he’s one of baseball’s elite defenders at any position, which will definitely be a bonus for some voters. Arenado would get a bump if the Rockies can make it to the wild card game.
2) Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks
Goldschmidt will probably get the “playoff team” vote locked up, though he doesn’t need to lean on that to make his case. He could be on his way to 40 homers; he’s at 33 at the start of September, so it’s doable, though he’d need a big month. He’s also hitting .314. He steals bases — 17 of them — and plays very good defense at first. The only hindrance may be an elbow injury that has the Diamondbacks concerned. If he misses a decent amount of time, his MVP candidacy will likely take a significant hit.
1) Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins
Stanton might just win the award on the back of two ridiculous months. He was having a good but not great season through the end of July, and then August happened. He’s hit 20 of his 53 home runs since August 4, and there’s a very real chance he’ll surpass Roger Maris’ old record of 61, even if Barry Bonds’s 73 seems to be out of reach by this point. He doesn’t have the highest average and he isn’t the best defender, nor is he on a likely playoff team, but power still attracts voters, and Stanton has been doing things that have been rarely seen in this game. The explosive power might just push him over the edge, especially if he can keep up something close to the pace.