MLB Most Valuable Player Award 2013: National League

Jared Wickerham

The National League Most Valuable Player award might be a close race between Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen and Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt. The Fake Teams writers make their case for National League MVP for McCutchen, Goldschmidt, Clayton Kershaw and others.

Major League Baseball announces their National League and American League Most Valuable Player awards later today, but the Fake Teams writers got together to provide you with our take on who should win each award, along with stating the case for several of the candidates.

National League

Making the MVP Case: Clayton Kershaw

by Matthew Mattingly

Kershaw helped his team so much this year that the Dodgers would have never survived the first half of the season or been able to complete their remarkable run in the 2nd half without him. Plus, you can't say he only affected the games he played in, because he saved the rest of the staff and made them less vulnerable by being such an innings-eater. Let's look at the WAR stat for 2013 and compare Kershaw to some other MVP contenders: Clayton Kershaw WAR = 6.5, Paul Goldschmidt WAR = 6.4, Yadier Molina WAR = 5.6, Freddie Freeman WAR = 4.8. Kershaw's 1.83 ERA and 0.91 WHIP this season were other-worldly compared to his peers. His amazing season, along with the fact that none of the other NL contenders for MVP had close to a Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout type offensive season this year are why I believe Clayton Kershaw could win the 2013 NL MVP.

Making the MVP Case: Andrew McCutchen

by Daniel Kelley

Offensive WAR is reasonably reliable. We know how offensive performance relates to runs scored, and we know how runs scored relate to wins. I'm sure someone like Jon Morosi can find a weird tidbit about WAR that has some random unqualified player rank above a stud, but that happens all the time. By and large, oWAR leaders are the right oWAR leaders.

It's less true in defensive WAR, for obvious reasons - defense is hard as hell to categorize. For whatever reason, dWAR has never loved Andrew McCutchen, despite all the eye tests loving him.

But that's not really the point. In 2013, McCutchen led the National League in oWAR by almost a full win over Matt Carpenter, and exceeded Paul Goldschmidt - his primary offensive competitor for the MVP - by almost two. He only had 0.7 dWAR to add to that, but who really cares? The hard, almost-always-right factor says McCutchen is great, the best in the league. The harder-to-quantify factor says he was good-not-superb, and together they still have him second in the league. Overall, McCutchen ought to be the easy offensive MVP among position players, and I slot him just a tic above Clayton Kershaw for the overall award.

Making the MVP Case: Joey Votto

by Brian Stultz

Instead of talking up Joey Votto and explaining to you why he deserves the NL MVP via stats I don't really understand, I am going to tell you why the other players in this group DON'T deserve the honor.

Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves) - Do you REALLY want your MVP to be as goofy looking as this guy? He looks like the guy who auditioned for the role of McLovin in "Superbad" but never got a call back.

Matt Carpenter (St. Louis Cardinals) - He's a better David Eckstein with a less annoying factor. HOWEVER, would you even say he is the best player on his team? In thirty years, no one will be saying to their grandkids, "Oh sonny boy, back in the Teens we used to watch that gritty chap named Matt Carpenter in the Louie." Also, people thirty years from now will be talking exactly like they did in 1917.

Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers) – He’s a pitcher. He plays every five days. He’s roughly involved in 20 percent of his team’s games. Just shut up if you want him to win it.

Andrew McCutchen (Pittsburgh Pirates) - Great player. Great season. ANNOYING AS HELL BANDWAGON FANBASE! If I saw one more person have "RAISE IT!" on their Twitter timeline, I was going to hire the Somalian version of pirates take down the Pittsburgh kind.

Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona Diamondbacks) - (Looking up whether Paul is Jewish or not....AND NO! He is not.) Phew, thanks for that. I would HATE for anyone (cough Ryan Braun cough) to call me an anti-Semite for saying he doesn't deserve the MVP. Look, nothing against Goldschmidt but I could not give a crap about how high is WAR is or that he led the league in NAMBLA or was the best at his position in UNICEF. (Those last two might not be real statistics.) All I care about is the fact he is not Canadian like Votto.

NONE of these other guys are Canadian! You know how hard it must be to grow up in Canada and tell your parents and friends that you are going to play BASEBALL? What, are you a little sissy boy who doesn't like to get hit by a hockey puck, Mr. Votto? Is THAT why you chose baseball? GO GET ME ANOTHER CRAPPY MOLSON BEER!

Seriously, Votto is to the National League what poutine is to my stomach: extremely delicious and lovable. If you don't vote for him, you are anti-Canadian*.

*For the love of all things holy, PLEASE let us beat the Canadians for the gold medal in the upcoming Olympics.

Making the MVP Case: Matt Carpenter

by Brian Creagh

With all due respect to Andrew McCutchen, the best offensive weapon on the best team in the National League deserves an awful lot of consideration for the National League Most Valuable Player Award. Matt Carpenter was an elite performer this season, utilizing a skillset not often seen in MVP discussions. Only 4 players since 1990 have accumulated 7+ WAR in a single season with less than 15 HRs: Kenny Lofton, Matt Carpenter, Chuck Knoblach, and Lenny Dykstra. Lofton (70), Knoblach (45), and Dykstra (33) all had far more steals than Carpenter (3) in their respective season, which isn't a knock on Carpenter but instead highlights just how special he was at getting on base and scoring runs.

Matt Carpenter led the National League in Hits (199), Runs (126), and Doubles (55) while batting leadoff for the majority of the season. Compare this to McCutchen, who did not lead the league in any specific category, but inarguably showed the better all around skillset. Carpenter chipped in 11 HRs and a .318 AVG and .392 OBP. I think the McCutchen vs Carpenter debate gets a lot more interesting if McCutchen's Pirates did not make the playoffs, but since it's not the case it is difficult to build a convincing case for Carpenter.

Carpenter's defense was league-average at best with 0 Defensive Runs Saved at 2B and a URZ of -1.6 at the keystone. Little power, no speed, and no defense, and yet Carpenter still sits atop the offensive leaderboards with a 147 wRC+; the more important question than MVP qualifications, is where did it come from? The short answer is a cut in strikeout rate down to 13.7% as well as a spike in BABIP to a unsustainable .359. Carpenter put more balls in play, and his balls in play landed safely with favorable regularity. Sounds like a recipe of success to me. McCutchen deserves the MVP, not only because of the narrative surrounding the Pirates successful season, but because he was without a doubt the most valuable player in the National League.

Making the MVP Case: Carlos Gomez

by Alex Kantecki

I've already been pretty bold about Carlos Gomez this offseason. In my "My Super Early Top 10 for 2014," I ranked the Brewers Gold Glove centerfielder No. 8 overall, behind only Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen and Carlos Gonzalez in the outfield. Twenty-four home runs and 40 steals will do that to a fantasy baseball writer guy. Gomez was truly unique in 2013, as no other player sniffed 20/40, and only Trout went 20/30. Trout packed more power than Gomez with three more long balls, but Gomez was a defensive beast in the outfield with a league-leading 38 defensive runs saved in center field and a career-best 12 outfield assists (bested only by the Mets' Juan Lagares, with 14). Oh, and he also chipped in five home-run saving catches for good television-viewing measure. Gomez probably won't get much love outside of Milwaukee, but he truly embodies what it means to be an all-around player in today's game. Only Trout, McCutchen and Josh Donaldson had a better season, according to FanGraphs WAR, but nobody had an equally as good offensive season and defensive season as Gomez, my dark horse for NL MVP.

Making the MVP Case: Paul Goldschmidt

by Zack Smith

The case for Paul Goldschmidt for NL MVP practically writes itself. Before Andrew McCutchen started going crazy and people started realizing what Matt Carpenter was doing, Goldschmidt was the clear cut favorite to win the award. Showing 20/20 potential and playing a very good first base in 2012 put Paul Goldschmidt on peoples' radar, but he took his game to another level in 2013. He improved in just about every area possible - walking more, striking out less, hitting for more average and power. His defense improved as well as he finished second among first basemen in Defensive Runs Saved and improved his UZR.

Goldschmidt led the league in home runs, RBIs and OPS. He finished in the top ten in runs and doubles and just missed the top ten in BB/K with a .68 mark. Goldschmidt stole fifteen bases which was fourteenth in the league and led all first basemen by nine stolen bases. He hit .410 with 9 home runs in high leverage situations according to FanGraphs and you could see him on any given night on the highlight reels coming up with a big hit. He led the league in Win Probability Added by a wide margin and finished fourth with a 6.4 WAR.

Fake Teams Voting Results

Below you will find the results of our voting. Note, not all writers submitted a full ballot. Scoring uses the 14-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 points system used by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWWA):

National League Most Valuable Player Award Voting Results

1st

2nd

3rd

4th

5th

6th

7th

8th

9th

10th

Total

Andrew McCutchen

9

1

136

Paul Goldschmidt

5

3

77

Carlos Gomez

1

4

1

48

Clayton Kershaw

1

1

1

33

Freddie Freeman

2

2

1

32

Joey Votto

2

1

1

29

Yadier Molina

1

2

1

26

Hanley Ramirez

1

1

1

25

Matt Carpenter

2

1

1

25

Shin-Soo Choo

1

1

12

Yasiel Puig

1

1

10

Andrelton Simmons

1

1

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