Time for the Senior Circuit’s MVP candidates! Let’s begin with past MVP winners and see if they have a realistic chance of securing another MVP in 2016:
Past MVP Winners:
Ichiro Suzuki (2001 Mariners; Marlins): The eventual Hall of Famer, Suzuki has carved out a brilliant professional career. He’s only the second player to have over 4000 hits in a career (combined from NPB and MLB). He’s expected to record his 3000th MLB hit sometime this season. He should get plenty of at-bats as the fourth outfielder on the Marlins, but it’s nearly impossible for him to get MVP consideration, 15 years after he received his first MVP award in the Majors.
Ryan Howard (2006 Phillies): Howard will be competing for playing time this year, and as the Phillies GM stated, he’ll have to hit if he wants to stay in the lineup. Otherwise, the Phillies could relegate him to bench duties so that young prospects can have their chance in the spotlight. Howard, simply put, will not be receiving NL MVP consideration this year.
Joey Votto (2010 Reds): Still one of the better first-baseman in the league, Votto had a very productive year for the rebuilding Reds last year. He won his MVP award six seasons ago. It’s very possible he could contend if others have down years this year, but I don’t see Votto having a monster season to be able to compare to guys like Posey, Goldy, and Harper. He’s still one of the better bets of the non-contenders this year to actually contend for the award if all things go right for the 32-year-old.
Ryan Braun (2011 Brewers): When he won his MVP award in ’11, he had the luxury of being protected in the lineup with 50-homer threat Prince Fielder. He no longer has that luxury in a rebuilding Brewers lineup. He will likely put together a solid season in all aspects, possibly even All-Star recognition worthy. However, it seems unlikely as this age, considering the players he bats around as well, that Braun can put together another MVP-worthy season.
Buster Posey (2012 Giants): Posey will surely contend for the NL MVP this year. He’s arguably the best catcher in the game today and he had a very productive 2015 season as well, receiving the Silver Slugger for the third time. He’s still in the middle of his prime, at the age of 28, and figures to attempt to lead the Giants to glory once again.
Andrew McCutchen (2013 Pirates): McCutchen is one of the best center-fielders today and he will definitely contend for the MVP award in 2016. He’s won four straight Silver Sluggers and receiving five straight trips to the All-Star Game. Like Posey, he’s also in the middle of his prime and has some great years ahead of him.
Clayton Kershaw (2014 Dodgers): Some might disagree with my designation for Kershaw, but just hear what I have to say. Kershaw is, without a doubt, the best pitcher in the MLB and by the time he hangs up his cleats, he could be one of the best left-handers ever to play. He’s won 3 Cy Youngs in a span of four years and was third in last year’s voting, even after recording 300 strikeouts. However, it is hard for pitchers to win the MVP, with only two in recent history (Kershaw and Justin Verlander). It’s possible, but I believe he won’t have a year that is better than the hitters will have in 2016.
Bryce Harper (2015 Nationals): The young phenom finally got rid of his injury problems and had a healthy year in 2015, proving to everyone he is one of the best players in the league and for years to come. In fact, Harper is so young that he was younger than last year’s Rookie of the Year (Kris Bryant). Harper, if injury-free, will definitely look to continue his 2015 success.
Yoenis Cespedes: He single-handedly led the Mets to the playoffs once acquired at the Trade Deadline. A few were even clamoring for Yoenis to receive NL MVP consideration for the two months he spent in the NL. His numbers definitely rose after being traded from Detroit to New York. Yoenis thrives in the spotlight and he’ll have the chance to do it again in a likely contract year. With a full season with the Mets, he has a real chance of getting serious NL MVP consideration this season.
Paul Goldschmidt: One of the best first-baseman in the league, Goldy was the runner-up in last year’s MVP voting. It seems very likely that eventually, Goldschmidt will get rewarded for his stellar numbers and secure a Most Valuable Player award. Goldy will have the chance to help Arizona reach the playoffs this year with a solid rotation to help the Dbacks with the additions of Greinke and Miller.
Jason Heyward: Being surrounded by a stellar young core in the lineup and a lights-out rotation, Heyward could be the final piece needed to vault the Cubs to end their World Series curse. The Cubs are the early favorites to win the World Series after signing Heyward, John Lackey, and Ben Zobrist. Heyward could have a career year in Chicago and reach his full potential.
Anthony Rizzo: Rizzo had a monstrous season in Chicago last year, and he’ll look to team up with Heyward and NL ROY Kris Bryant to lead the Cubs to October this year. If it isn’t Heyward putting the Cubs on top, it very well could be Anthony Rizzo. Look for him to continue his success into 2016 as well.
Nolan Arenado: One of the best young third-baseman in the league, Arenado is known for his highlight-worthy defense and incredible power at the hitter-friendly Coors Field. He won’t have Troy Tulowitzki playing beside him in the infield any more, and he could also lose another outfielder in the Rockies lineup (after losing Corey Dickerson) in Carlos Gonzalez eventually too. This may or may not affect Arenado’s batting numbers, but on defense, he’ll still be a whiz.
Predicted Finalists: Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes
PREDICTED WINNER: Paul Goldschmidt
What do you think? Agree with my finalists and winner? Disagree? Tell me why!