The 2010 Major Baseball season is over. The time is right to consider which player will be the 2010 NL Most Valuable Player (MVP).
There are a number of candidates for the MVP award. But, first things first. What is the definition of the MVP?
According to Wikipedia, the “Most Valuable Player Award (MVP) is an annual Major League Baseball (MLB) award given to one outstanding player in the American and National Leagues. Since 1931, it has been awarded by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA). The winner receives the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award, which is named in honor of the first MLB commissioner, who served from 1920 to 1944. MVP voting takes place before the postseason but the results are not announced until after the World Series.. The BBWAA began polling three writers in each league city in 1938, reducing that number to two per league city in 1961.”
For the most part, the BBWAA votes for the player with the “glamor” offensive statistics (batting average, home runs, runs batted in). Like it or not, they also vote for the player who is on a division winner or at least a wild card team. The BBWAA may not admit this, and in the distant past didn’t necessarily follow this unwritten rule (Ernie Banks, on the last place Chicago Cubs in 1958-1959, won the award two years running), but, for the most part, this is in fact the way the BBWAA votes.
The BBWAA doesn’t always vote for the BEST player in the league. If that were the case, players such as Willie Mays would have won the MVP year after year. The MVP is, in my opinion, the “most valuable player” to his team.
With that long preamble over, here are my three front runners for the NL MVP Award:
Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals
Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
Also, citing Wilkipedia, “First basemen, with 33 winners, have won the most MVPs among infielders — ”
Both Votto and Pujols are first basemen.
As of October 3, 2010, Joey Votto is second in the league in batting average (.324), third in home runs (37) and runs batted in (RBI) with 113. Votto is first in on-base percentage (.424), tied for fourth in runs scored (106), is sixth in hits (177), and ninth in doubles (36).
Albert Pujols is first in the league in home runs (42) and RBI (118) and tied for sixth in batting average (.312). Pujols is also first in runs scored (115), second in on base percentage (.414), fifth in hits (183), and tied for sixth in doubles (39).
Carlos Gonzalez is first in the league in batting (.336), second in RBI (117) and fourth in home runs (34). He is first in hits (197), third in runs scored (111) tied for 11th in doubles (34), and 13th in on base percentage (.376). He is also fourth in the league in triples (9), and ninth in stolen bases (26).
Both Pujols and Votto have stolen base figures in the teens.
All three candidates are tied for first in slugging percentage, with .598 marks.
Pujols, who won the MVP in 2008 and 2009, has a good chance to be the only other player (Barry Bonds is the other) to win the award three years in a row. For the record, Bonds won the award seven times, including twice in a row and four times in a row
However, Votto is the only one of the three players to be on a division winner. As previously mentioned, this will count a lot with BBWAA voters. Cincinnati finished with a 91-71 record.
Pujols’ St. Louis Cardinals had a disappointing year, with an 86-76 record, seven games behind the NL Central Division winners. In many quarters, the Cards were expected to win the division.
The Colorado Rockies, Gonzalez’s team, finished the 2010 season with an 83-79 record, barely above the .500 mark..
Thus, though it will be a close race between Votto and Pujols, I believe that Votto will capture the 2010 NL MVP Award.
Wikipedia MVP Definition:
National League batting statistics as of October 3, 2010:
Major League Baseball standings as of October 3, 2010: