NL MVP vote looks like a choice among three
Braun, Posey, McCutchen top candidates; Giants catcher perhaps holds edge
As a trio of candidates dominates the National League Most Valuable Player Award discussion, having the reigning NL MVP Award winner among them creates a unique element to be considered.The scenario that had Ryan Braun somehow playing himself out of the discussion -- thus saving voters from judging whether his overturned positive performance-enhancing drug test last offseason should be a factor in the considerations -- has not transpired, to no one's surprise.
After the All-Star break, Posey led all of baseball with a .385 average, .456 on-base percentage and 1.102 OPS. He also hit 14 of his 24 homers in the second half, to go along with 60 RBIs.Not coincidentally, the Giants wrapped up the NL West despite losing first-half star Melky Cabrera to a 50-game suspension for performance-enhancing drug use. While helping to guide the San Francisco pitching staff to the fifth-best ERA in the league, Posey was behind the plate for 114 games, in addition to making 29 starts at first base. "When you talk about the Most Valuable Player, his name has to be mentioned for what he's done for us," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Perhaps none of the three had as much riding on his team's performance as McCutchen, whose Pirates struggled in the final month of the year after a surprising start. McCutchen was an All-Star for a second straight year, this time entering the break with a .362 average, 18 homers and 60 RBIs -- the best first half in the storied franchise's history. His production fell in the second half, along with the team's, but McCutchen still ranked first in the league with 194 hits, finished second to Posey with a .327 average and was in the top-three in runs (second), total bases (second), on-base percentage (third) and slugging percentage (third).
The Bucs' center fielder's defense has made him a viable Gold Glove candidate as well."It's a very special time and place for him in the game. We're seeing a superstar grow up right in front of our eyes," said Pirates manager Clint Hurdle. Boil down all the ingredients, add other factors to the mix and the same question is asked every year: What does it mean to be the league's Most Valuable Player? "I think it's what you mean to your team, the year that you have, how you play down the stretch -- those are all things that factor into winning it," said Giambi, who batted .396 with 13 homers and 32 RBIs in 28 September/October games in 2000. Giambi doesn't have a vote, but he said it's Posey who had all the right stuff this year. "In my opinion, I'd say Buster's the front-runner, for sure," Giambi said near season's end. "The biggest thing is he does a phenomenal job -- not only offensively, but catching. And when he's not catching, he plays first. He's definitely a valuable member of that team."
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.