Wow – that’s all I can say at this point. The AL MVP was a tough choice, and I thought it would get easier when I got to the NL – wrong! This race is wide open, in my opinion. I heard an awful lot of Buster Posey talk during the postseason, as though he is the obvious choice. But, that’s not necessarily true when you look at the stats.
There are five players with overall WAR’s of 7.4-8.0. Four of those five have wRC+ scores of 145-162. And 3 of those 4 have an OPS over .900. So, I guess the second-tier guys would be David Wright – NYM (.306, 21 HR, 93 RBI, .883 OPS, 15 SB, .974 fld. pct.), and Chase Headley – SD (.286, 31 HR, 115 RBI, .875 OPS, 17 SB, .976 fld. pct.). Some might make the argument in favor of LaRoche, or maybe Bruce, or Beltran, or perhaps Heyward. I’d say those guys each have holes (though, not glaring ones) in their overall game that the rest didn’t this year, so they’d be that third tier, just a slight step behind Wright & Headley.
So, in my opinion, the vote has to come down to Ryan Braun (MIL), Andrew McCutcheon (PIT), or Buster Posey (SF). This is one of those situations where I know a lot of people are going to immediately point to the fact that Posey is the only one that made it to the playoffs. I’ve never understood that rationale when it comes to the MVP. While I did use it as a portion of the deciding factor for the AL MVP this year (since the stats were so close, and Cabrera excelled late in the season when his team needed him), I don’t like using that as a go-to point, because you can’t fault a guy for the team he plays on. He’s just one guy. He could be the Most Valuable Player, and just happen to have a lousy team around him.
So, here’s the breakdown of the top three: Posey & Braun are tied at the top with 162 wRC+, and McCutcheon is 3rd with 158. Posey’s WAR is 8.0, Braun 7.9, McCutcheon 7.4. Braun hit 41 HR, McCutcheon 31, and Posey 24. Braun had 112 RBI, Posey 103, McCutcheon 96. Posey batted .336, McCutcheon .327, Braun .319. Braun’s OPS was .984, Posey’s .957, McCutcheon’s .953. Posey struck out 96 times, Braun 128, McCutcheon 132. McCutcheon grounded into 9 DP’s, Braun 12, Posey 19. Braun had 30 SB, McCutcheon had 20, Posey had 1. McCutcheon had just 1 error all season, Braun had 6, and Posey had 8. Braun also had 7 DRS, the only one in the group with a positive number in that category.
Well, those stats didn’t help me as much as I hoped they would, though I’m starting to get a little clearer picture. How about with runners in scoring position? Those key at-bats are important to your team. Posey: .340, .952 OPS, 68 RBI. McCutcheon: .326, .975 OPS, 60 RBI. Braun: .307, .961 OPS, 62 RBI. Posey looks to have a slight edge here, but I also noticed that he had around 10 more AB’s in these situations than the other two.
Here’s the stats with RISP & 2 outs: Braun – .288, .900 OPS, 22 RBI. McCutcheon – .261, .740 OPS, 18 RBI. Posey – .211, .717 OPS, 13 RBI.
One last stat – post-All-Star break numbers: Braun – .333, .983 OPS, 17 HR, 51 RBI. Posey – .385, 1.102 OPS, 14 HR, 60 RBI. McCutcheon – .289, .860 OPS, 13 HR, 36 RBI.
I think the first thing we can do in making this choice is eliminate McCutcheon. He places last of the three in too many categories, and is only at the top of the errors & GIDP list. A fantastic year, but just a little short of MVP-winning. I think that’s in large part due to the fact that his 2nd half was a considerable step back from the first half.
Posey has the edge when it comes to his post-All-Star numbers. For the season, he also has the edge over Braun in strikeouts, batting average, and WAR (by 0.1). But, Braun has the advantage in HR, RBI, OPS, SB, defense, GIDP, and overall numbers with RISP & 2 outs. Braun also has comparable numbers in the few areas that Posey leads – not really lagging behind in anything except perhaps strikeouts.
So, even though his team didn’t make the playoffs, and even though there was all the controversy during the offseason over whether or not he used PED’s, I think I would still have to consider Braun’s season a very slight notch better than Posey’s. My ballot would be: 1. Braun, 2. Posey, 3. McCutcheon. But, that certainly doesn’t mean I’d be upset if Posey wins, because the numbers are just so close.