NL MVP – Who’s your pick?
10. Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw won his Cy Young award with the first triple crown since Jake Peavy in 2007. In addition to wins, ERA, and strikeouts, Kershaw also led the league with a 0.977 WHIP, consisting of a league-best hit rate, and a career-best walk rate.
9. Justin Upton
The Arizona Diamondbacks went from last to first, and Justin Upton is a big reason why. Slugging 31 home runs and 39 doubles, the 23 year old budding star secured a silver slugger, and will likely find himself with a top-10 MVP finish.
8. Jose Reyes
The Mets are probably going to miss Jose Reyes when he tests the waters this season, having already received a 6 year offer from the Florida Marlins. The shortstop won the league’s batting title with a .337 mark and used his speed to finish fifth with 105 runs scored despite a poor supporting cast.
7. Albert Pujols
Easily the worst year of his career, Albert Pujols hit .299/.366/.541 for a 150 OPS+ and finished third in the league with 37 home runs. Again, this was a down year. As he chases 200 million this off-season, his prospective employers will likely keep his September in mind, when he hit .355 to help push his Cardinals past the Braves into the playoffs and onto the World Series.
6. Joey Votto
Joey Votto showed that his MVP 2010 season was no fluke, leading the National League in on-base percentage for the second year in a row with a .416 mark while slugging a league-best 40 doubles
5. Prince Fielder
Prince Fielder did not disappoint in his contract year; the only Major Leaguer to play all 162 games, he placed second in on-base percentage (.415) and third in slugging percentage (.566), while leading the league in Win Probability Added for the third time in five years. The only question now: who will pay big for his services over the next 6 to 10 years?
4. Roy Halladay
Roy Halladay placed second in the Cy Young voting but still garnered some first place votes in large part due to his first place standing in some of the more advanced statistics; the Phillies ace led the National League in ERA+, K/BB, and FIP.
3. Troy Tulowitzki
Troy Tulowitzki once again showed himself to be in a class all by himself among the game’s best shortstops, hitting .302/.372/.544 with 30 home runs to earn Silver Slugger honors over batting title winner Jose Reyes. Add to the fact that he’s among the very best defensive players in the game at any position, and you’ve got a perennial MVP candidate for the next decade in Denver.
2. Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun continued his excellent play in 2011, leading the National League with a .597 slugging percentage and a .994 OPS. He became the first Brewer since Tommy Harper in 1970 to reach the 30-30 plateau and even placed fourth in the league with 38 doubles. A man with a flair for the dramatic, Braun slugged the game-winning home run for the Brew Crew on the night they clinched their first division championship in 29 years. If you’re one of those people who believe the MVP must come from a playoff team, Braun’s your man.
1. Matt Kemp
I, however, am not one of those people; as long as the MVP award is the supreme award in sports, it should go to the very best player, period – and that man was unquestionably Matt Kemp. Kemp had a season for the ages in Los Angeles, leading the league in home runs, RBI, runs scored, OPS+, runs created – basically everything. His 10.0 WAR season not only ranked first in baseball, but was the best by a National League center fielder since Willie Mays in 1965.
Notable Snubs: Cliff Lee (SP – PHI), Cole Hamels (SP – PHI), Hunter Pence (RF – HOU/PHI), Brian McCann (C – ATL), Michael Morse (1B/LF – WAS), Mike Stanton (RF – FLA), Lance Berkman (RF – STL), Yadier Molina (C – STL), Matt Holliday (LF – STL), Brandon Phillips (2B – CIN), Starlin Castro (SS – CHC), Aramis Ramirez (3B – CHC), Andrew McCutchen (CF – PIT), Pablo Sandoval (3B – SFG), Tim Lincecum (SP – SFG), Matt Cain (SP – SFG), Madison Bumgarner (SP – SFG), Ian Kennedy (SP – ARI), Ryan Roberts (3B – ARI), Miguel Montero (C – ARI)