Oct 11, 2012; Cincinnati, OH, USA; San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) jogs to the dugout following the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds in game five of the 2012 NLDS at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

MLB: Top 3 MVP Candidates for Each League in 2013

It’s that time again, spring is upon us and pitchers and catchers have reported to spring training. Baseball is here again, and just like every season, someone will step-up in a big way. This unknown person’s performance will spell the difference between victory and defeat on countless occasions, and they will make the leap from valued member of the team, to Most Valuable Player.

The question is: Who will it be?

The three players from each league, with the greatest chance of being that special player are:

National League.

1. Buster Posey: The reigning National league MVP will be back with fire in his eyes, looking to not only defend his title as MVP, but his team’s title as World Series Champions.

After missing the majority of the 2011 season due to a broken leg, the result of a terrible collision at home plate, the Giants catcher had a fantastic comeback year in 2012.

Posey finished the season with a sensational league high .336 batting average, as well as career highs in both home runs (24), and RBI (103). Buster Posey is as natural a hitter as there is in the league, and can call a masterful game behind the plate, things which belie his young age of 25.

Watch for Posey to be just the difference maker we have come to expect, and make a run at a second straight MVP title.

2. Andrew McCutchen: Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen seemed to be a shoo-in to win MVP in 2012.

He led the league in hits (194), was second in batting average (.327), and eighth in home runs (31). McCutchen finished third in the 2012 MVP voting, only the Pirates missing the playoff really hurt his chances, but expect this dominating force to make a strong run toward the right to hoist the N.L. MVP trophy in 2013.

3. Adam LaRoche: The Washington Nationals made a huge run into the playoffs in 2012, finally falling

to the St. Louis Cardinals in five games after posting the best record in Major League Baseball. One of the keys to their success was their power-hitting first baseman Adam LaRoche, who belted 33 home runs, and knocked in 100 runs, despite putting up a somewhat sub-par .271 batting average.

His average, along with the Nationals untimely exit from the playoffs led to LaRoche finishing 5th in the MVP voting for 2012, something LaRoche will be working very hard to rectify in 2013.

American League.

February 22, 2013; Lake Buena Vista, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera (24) looks after he hit the ball in the sixth inning against the Atlanta Braves during spring training at Disney Wide World of Sports complex, Champion Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

1. Miguel Cabrera: The first Triple Crown winner since 1967, and reigning A.L. MVP, Cabrera dominated the American league at the plate in 2012. Cabrera put up a league leading .330 batting average, smacked 44 home runs and knocked in 139 runs.

He also led the league in slugging percentage, OPS, and was fourth in on base percentage. However, Cabrera struggled defensively after being moved back to third base to accommodate the Tigers’ signing of Prince Fielder.

With the combined motivation of his team’s success in the American League in 2012, and their disappointing showing in the World Series, look for Miguel Cabrera to be hungry to repeat his MVP performance in 2013.

2. Mike Trout: When a player bats .326, hits 30 home runs, 89 RBI, and crosses the plate a league leading 129 times, you know they’re doing something special. When that player is a 21 year old rookie, who wasn’t called up until 21 games into the season, it’s nothing short of amazing. 2012 A.L. Rookie of the Year, Mike Trout did all of that and more last year, he also lead the A.L. in steals (49), and also came in second for the batting title behind Miguel Cabrera.

Sep 28, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout (27) bats during the game against the Texas Rangers at Rangers Ballpark. The Angels beat the Rangers 7-4. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Had Cabrera not gone on to win the Triple Crown, There probably would have been no argument if the MVP trophy would have awarded to the Angels center fielder. Look for Trout to come out swinging in 2013, gunning for the league MVP award, and a deep playoff run with the Angels.

3. Adam Jones: The Baltimore Orioles surprised everyone in 2012 with a strong regular season finish, and a Wild Card appearance in the playoffs.

One major contributor to that stunning performance was center fielder Adam Jones. Jones hit .287, crushed 33 longshots, crossed the plate 103 times, and connected for 82 RBI.

Of his 32 home runs, 17 were to give the Orioles the lead in the game, 4 were in extra innings, and 3 were game winners. That stat may be the most important, his ability to change the outcome of the game with one swing of his bat. Watch for Jones to swing that magical bat and win more games, while vying for the top spot in the 2013 A.L MVP voting.

The six players named in this article are all players who finished in the top five in MVP voting in 2012, but as anyone will tell you, baseball seasons are marathons and anything can happen over the course of 162 games.

Players get hurt; have plate struggles, and long streaks and droughts.

Also, just as these players stepped up last year, there is room for any player to step up. One of the most exciting things about baseball is watching the astonishing, amazing, and unlikely happen.

For this writer, nothing conjures up fonder memories that the smell of roasted peanuts, the smack of a ball on leather, the crack of the bat, and the sound of the umpire yelling PLAY BALL.

Tags: Adam Jones Adam LaRoche Andrew McCutchen Baltimore Orioles Buster Posey Detroit Tigers Los Angeles Angels Miguel Cabrera Mike Trout MLB MVP Pittsburgh Pirates San Francisco Giants Washington Nationals

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