Aug 22, 2013; Miami, FL, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw (22) throws a pitch during the eighth inning against the Miami Marlins at Marlins Park. Mandatory Credit: Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

MLB: Five Candidates for NL MVP Award

The race for the MVP title in the National League is shaping up to be an interesting one—interesting in the sense that it is wide open as of right now.

The American League definitely has frontrunners who are very likely to win — Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout — but those in contention in the National League are on more even footing. Also, despite putting together a another good season, Buster Posey (last year’s MVP winner) isn’t in the running to win the MVP title again this year.

Here are five players in the running to become the NL MVP:

Clayton Kershaw

Kershaw’s pitching stats are significant; his ERA is 1.72, his WHIP is 0.88, and he has 197 strikeouts this season. He is one of three pitchers in the last 30 years to qualify for the ERA title with an ERA as low as his; the other two are Dwight Gooden (1.53) for the New York Mets in 1985 and Greg Maddux in 1994 and 1995 (1.56 and 1.63 respectively) for the Atlanta Braves.

As for strikeouts, he is three away from becoming one of three Dodgers pitchers to have four straight 200-strikeout season. The other two were Koufax and Don Drysdale, both of whom had their streaks in the 1960s.

Andrew McCutchen

The Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder is fun to watch. He hits well and he surely knows how to excel in his position in the outfield. How well is he hitting?

Well, he currently has a batting average of .317, has hit 17 home runs this season, and has 74 RBI. McClutchen is ranked in the top 10 for six different offensive categories in the National League, BA, RBI, R, BB, SB, and OPS (5th, 10th, 6th, 8th, 6th, and 6th respectively)

Yadier Molina

Despite spending some time on the disabled list, Molina is definitely a candidate for MVP. He has the second-highest batting average (.329) in the National League, and he is solid defensively behind the plate.

St. Louis has other players who are batting very well this year, including Carlos Beltran, Allen Craig and Matt Carpenter (all have over a .300 BA). But even though Carpenter may have a higher OBP and SLG, Molina is noticeably better on the field. His DWAR is 1.9, while Carpenter’s DWAR is 0.5. Molina may also win his sixth Golden Glove this year. Also telling is how the Cardinals have struggled without him; they have gone 11-13 with Molina’s backups behind the plate. They are 56-37 with Molina catching

Joey Votto

Joey Votto is having an excellent offensive year. The Cincinnati Reds first baseman is batting .306, has 20 home runs, 20 RBI, and an OBP of .431. Votto is ranked in the top ten for five different offensive categories in the National League; BA, R, BB, OPS, and OBP (he ranks 10th, 3rd, 1st, 4th, and 1st respectively). He is known for being selective behind the plate, which is why he ranks first in walks and on-base percentage. Votto showed his value, too, when he hit the game-winning home run against the Brewers on August 15th

Paul Goldschmidt

Paul Goldschmidt, the Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman, is also having an excellent year. He is doing quite well from the batters box; he ranks in the top ten in the National League for HR, RBI, R, BB, SLG, and OPS (2nd, 1st, 3rd, 3rd, 2nd, and 2nd respectively). His 20 home runs got Goldschmidt in second place, and his 104 RBI got him in first pace in that category. He has also done a great job in the field. For E, FPCT, PO, and RF, Goldschmidt is also in the top ten in the National League (tied 4th, tied 2nd, 1st, and 2nd respectively).

Tags: Arizona Diamondbacks Cincinnati Reds Los Angeles Dodgers Pittsburgh Pirates St. Louis Cardinals

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