Here we are with less than 20 games left in the regular season. The Washington Nationals, Los Angeles Dodgers, St Louis Cardinals, Pittsburgh Pirates, and the Chicago Cubs have all but decided who will represent each division the 2015 Major League Baseball playoffs. The only thing left to debate is which team, the Pirates or Cubs, will host the Wildcard play in game. With that it in mind it is also the stretch run for many of Major League Baseball’s top awards. What better time to see who is in the driver’s seat and what players still have an outside shot to capture performance bonuses and awards that cement their 2015 seasons for posterity. Let’s take a look at the NL MVP award race with roughly 20 games left in the 2015 baseball season.
The Man to Beat
Maybe you think it matters or maybe you do not, the reality is that voting members weight the fact that a player is or is not on a playoff contending team. That is the only knock against Bryce Harper this year. RBI is the only category keeping him from a Triple Crown season. Harper leads the NL in home runs (40) and batting average (.338). He also tops On Base Percentage (.467), Slugging (.670), and OPS (1.137). Throw in the fact that he leads the majors in WAR at 8.7 and you have an absolutely monster season. His OPS is the best in the game over the last decade. Even though the Nationals had a poor season by any stretch of the imagination, you cannot argue that Harper has lived up to the hype and then some in 2015. He deserves the award.
In the Hunt
Here is a shock; Andrew McCutchen is in the MVP race in 2015. Okay, it is not a shock since he finished as a bridesmaid last year and won the award in 2013. He has really turned things around after a very poor start to the season. On the season he has 22 home runs, 86 runs scored, and 93 RBI. He is also fourth in On Base Percentage (.397) and fifth in OPS (.899). He is the leader on a contending team and delivers in the clutch as shown by his .385 average with runners in scoring position. It would be his award if it was not for Harper.
The Rest of the Top-5
3 – Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
I feel bad for Arrietta because the only think keeping him from a sure fire Cy Young is Zack Greinke. He is 17-3 with a 1.61 ERA in 2015. Opposing batters are hitting .190 against him with a 0.85 WHIP. Those are incredible numbers. Nothing against Arrieta but if a pitcher is an MVP candidate in 2015 its Greinke.
4 – Anthony Rizzo, Chicago Cubs
He is the offensive leader for the Cubs in a year that the fan base has been craving for a long time. He has 29 home runs, 90 RBI and 84 runs scored in 2015. The youngster is coming into his own and this is a sign of things to come.
5 – Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
His second half is not as impressive as his first but Paul Goldschmidt is still hitting .315 with 28 home runs and 100 RBI on the 2015 season. The Diamondbacks are not playoff contenders which hurts his stock in the eyes of the voters but my Spring Training pick for MVP is still playing very well in 2015.