Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Two Dodgers Mentioned In Four-Man NL MVP Hunt

Nice to see not one, but two Dodgers mentioned in the hunt for NL MVP, according to ESPN writer Mike Petriello (okay, yes, this may be biased! But still cool). Along with Andrew McCutchen and Giancarlo Stanton, Petriello mentions Yasiel Puig and Clayton Kershaw (link insider only):

Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig can both boast of being on the playoff-bound Los Angeles Dodgers, owners of the best record in the NL. Puig is having another outstanding year at the plate, essentially duplicating his 2013 (160 wRC+ last year, 161 this year), which ties him with Stanton for the third best in baseball. He certainly ought to do better than 2013's mere 2 percent of the vote, though his recent power outage -- he has only two homers since May -- and the unsettling concern that some voters may continue to wonder if he "plays the game the right way" also could work against him.

All of this uncertainty might actually work in Kershaw's favor, because while pitchers generally don't win MVP awards -- it's happened only once in the past 20 years -- pitchers generally don't have the kind of season Kershaw is having, either. You can make a very good case that Kershaw, seemingly a clear choice for the NL Cy Young Award, isn't just having a great season, he's having a historically great season. While some voters are reluctant to vote for a pitcher, arguing that someone who appears once every five days can't impact a season as much as an everyday player, that's short-sighted; after all, Kershaw faced 908 hitters in 2013, far more than the 600 or so plate appearances a regular player gets throughout the season. Of course, even then it's not a slam dunk, because Kershaw missed about six weeks with a back injury earlier in the year. Then again, how can we say that McCutchen's missed time is worse simply because it's happening now?

No matter how this all sorts out, there isn't going to be a consensus MVP pick. The record for most players to receive a first-place vote is 11, set in the AL in 1977. For the first time in years, the NL may be ready to threaten that number in 2014.

I like it. Way to go, Mike P.!