Buster Posey Still Can Win the National League MVP


Buster Posey doesn’t have many empty places in his trophy case. He already has two World Series rings (2010 and 2012), a Rookie of the Year Award in 2010, one Most Valuable Player Award, batting title , Comeback Player of the Year, Silver Slugger Award, and Hank Aaron Award (all in 2012).

He may not have much room for more, but with the way he’s playing in recent weeks, he may have to make room.

After a first-half that was thoroughly unimpressive for Posey’s standards (he hit .277 and was left off the All-Star roster), he’s been red-hot.

Looking even more recently, Posey’s numbers become even more impressive. Over his last 15 games, Posey is hitting over .500 — and he’s hitting more than just singles.

It’s safe to say he’s the reason the San Francisco Giants are back in the thick of the division race. San Francisco now trails the Los Angeles Dodgers by only three games. The division is very much up for grabs, but both teams are likely to play in at least one postseason game as the Giants have a comfortable Wild Card-lead.

Posey is chasing not only the Dodgers, but also another MVP Award. Posey is now fourth in the National League in batting average (.309) behind only Colorado’s Justin Morneau (.316), Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison (.315), and Philadelphia’s Ben Revere (.315).

None of those three pose any threat to stealing MVP-votes from Posey, but winning the batting title would sure help his cause. However, being the NL’s best hitter won’t be enough.

Posey must lead the Giants past the Dodgers and claim the NL West crown for the third time in five years. Assuming Posey and San Francisco stay hot, the catcher will have a good chance to take home his second MVP Award in three years.

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Let’s take a look at the competition — beware, it’s stiff — Posey faces regarding the MVP race.

Giancarlo Stanton is the frontrunner. He leads the NL in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and WAR (wins above replacement). In most of those categories, it’s not even close. He is only rivaled by Atlanta’s Jason Heyward in WAR. Other than that, Stanton has quite a cushion.

However, he is on the Miami Marlins. They are on the cusp of becoming unimportant in September once again (although one could judge their season as an overall success after losing Cy Young-hopeful Jose Fernandez early in the year to Tommy John surgery).

The MVP candidate’s team missing out on the playoffs sways the voting — it shouldn’t, but it does.

Think back to 2011. Matt Kemp had an incredible season. He hit .324 with 39 home runs and 126 RBI. His Dodgers missed out on the playoffs and the award was given to Ryan Braun (he was cheating, but that’s a different story) . His season was still a great one: .333 with 33 home runs and 111 RBI.

Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Kemp had a slightly better year than Braun, but the difference in the success of the two teams decided who won.  Could this happen again this season? Will the Marlins cost Stanton the MVP simply because they missed out on the playoffs? There isn’t anyone as close to Stanton statistically as Braun was to Kemp, but the last month of the season could change that.

Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw will win the Cy Young Award again, but he also has a shot to win the MVP Award. He has 17 wins (tied with Madison Bumgarner and Adam Wainwright for the NL lead) in only 23 starts. As a comparison, Bumgarner has started 30 games while Wainwright has started 29.

Kershaw’s ERA is also the league’s best and if that holds for the rest of the year — which it most likely will — Kershaw will own the NL’s best ERA in four consecutive seasons.

However, can a player that only affects one out of every five games really be the most valuable? We saw Justin Verlander win the AL MVP Award in 2011 after a stunning campaign. It’s safe to say that pitchers are rarely the league’s most valuable, but Kershaw surely has a shot.

Similarly to Posey, Kershaw’s chances will be greatly affected by whether his team finishes first or second in the NL West. The Giants and the Dodgers will be battling for not only the division title, but also prestigious awards.

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Just checking... yep, Brock Purdy is still worthy of MVP despite what haters say
Just checking... yep, Brock Purdy is still worthy of MVP despite what haters say /

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  • The only other player that has a shot at the MVP is Pittsburgh’s Andrew McCutchen, who is directly behind Posey is batting average (.308). McCutchen recently returned off the disabled list and although he struggled to get back into the swing of things, he has picked it up of late: he’s hitting .321 with two home runs in his last six games.

    Pittsburgh is currently four and a half games behind the St. Louis Cardinals for the lead in the NL Central and are also slugging it out with multiple teams for the second Wild Card spot.

    Much like Posey and Kershaw, McCutchen’s status as the league’s MVP (which he was last year) hinges on Pittsburgh’s playoff status. If they miss out on the postseason, McCutchen will be eliminated from the race for MVP.

    Stanton seems to be on his way to winning his first MVP, but Posey certainly is earning himself more votes with his recent performance.

    And who knows, maybe Posey’s hot September continues and he leads San Francisco to a division title. Maybe Posey squeaks out the award because the Baseball Writers Association of America is hesitant to give the award to a pitcher or a player excluded from the postseason.