Giancarlo Stanton Should Win the National League MVP Award
The World Series has come and gone, which means Major League Baseball's offseason is under way. It's the season for free-agency rumors, trade talk and postseason awards, which isn't a bad substitute if we're not going to be getting anymore games for the next few months.
On Monday, MLB announced the finalists for the major postseason awards -- MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year and Manager of the Year. The rookie awards are locked in stone; Cody Bellinger of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees are going to take those two trophies home, likely in a unanimous vote.
But the MVP and Cy Young Awards in each league are about as wide open as one can remember. Perhaps the most wide open race is for NL MVP, where there were far more than three deserving candidates. However, MLB announced the players who finished as the top-three vote getters, as voted upon by the Baseball Writers of America.
Your 2017 NL BBWAA #MVP Award finalists:
Joey Votto pic.twitter.com/LKiaxUu23x
— MLB (@MLB) November 6, 2017
Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds and Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks are the three left standing. The voting has already been tabulated, and these were the three highest vote-getters. And when you break down the numbers, Stanton appears to be the most deserving candidate.
While Wins Above Replacement is not the only statistic voters should look at when considering an MVP candidate, it is an important one. Below are the WAR totals for the top players in the NL last season, with both Fangraphs' version (fWAR) and Baseball Reference's version (rWAR) added together to create a players' Total WAR (tWAR).
|Giancarlo Stanton||Marlins||6.9 (T-1)||7.6 (1)||14.5|
|Joey Votto||Reds||6.6 (4)||7.5 (2)||14.1|
|Nolan Arenado||Rockies||5.6 (8)||7.2 (3)||12.8|
|Kris Bryant||Cubs||6.7 (3)||6.1 (5)||12.8|
|Anthony Rendon||Nationals||6.9 (T-1)||5.9 (7)||12.8|
|Charlie Blackmon||Rockies||6.5 (5)||6.0 (6)||12.5|
|Tommy Pham||Cardinals||5.9 (6)||6.4 (4)||12.3|
|Justin Turner||Dodgers||5.5 (9)||5.7 (10)||11.2|
|Paul Goldschmidt||D-Backs||5.3 (10)||5.8 (T-8)||11.1|
|Marcell Ozuna||Marlins||4.8 (12)||5.8 (T-8)||10.6|
Stanton finished first in both fWAR and rWAR among NL players, with a tWAR of 14.5. Votto came in second at 14.1, finishing fourth in fWAR and second in rWAR. Interestingly, Goldschmidt finished further down the list in both -- 10th in fWAR and tied for 8th in rWAR, with a tWAR that ranked 9th overall.
Stanton was baseball's home run king this season, nearly eclipsing Roger Maris' once-traditional single-season homer record of 61. Stanton hit 59 bombs in this tater-crazy season and finished with the league's highest slugging percentage (.631) and the most RBIs (132). He was second to Votto in OPS (1.007) and in weighted runs created (wRC+) at 156, and Stanton played 159 games, the most since he tallied 150 in 2011.
Votto also has a strong case, but his isn't quite as strong as Stanton's. Votto dominated in the most important offensive statistic, on-base percentage, with a .454 OBP, far higher than the next closest player (Justin Turner at .415). Votto's OPS of 1.032 was tops in the NL, as was his wRC+ of 165. He hit .320, good for fourth in the league, and he added in 36 homers and 100 RBIs for good measure.
Interestingly, neither player's team made the postseason this year. In fact, neither team really got close. Traditionally, MVP candidates come from winning teams, but in this case, the two leading candidates for the league's MVP Award were sitting at home in October.
As for the third finalist, there is no doubt Goldschmidt is one of the best players in baseball. He's a perennial MVP candidate, but in 2017, there are players who had a better argument.
Two Colorado Rockies stars -- Nolan Arenado (12.8) and Charlie Blackmon (12.5) -- both have better arguments than Goldschmidt does, as did last year's MVP, Kris Bryant, who racked up a tWAR of 12.8. There is also Anthony Rendon, who surprisingly didn't make the NL All-Star team and is not an MVP finalist, despite being tied with Stanton atop the fWAR leaderboard and tied for tied in tWAR with Arenado and Bryant.
It's likely voters dinged Arenado and Blackmon because they play in Colorado. However, advanced metrics like wRC+ take into account park factors and factor that information in the WAR totals, so their exclusion in favor of Goldschmidt doesn't make much sense. Neither does the exclusion of Bryant, who was tied with Arenado and Blackmon for the third-most tWAR in the National League.
This could go down as one of the closest vote totals in MLB history. The winner will be announced on November 16th.