As the 2012 MLB season winds down, the MVP race in each league is only heating up. While in the AL a clear frontrunner has emerged, who will win the sought-after title in the NL is still up in the air.
Numerous factors are taken into consideration when the voters select the MVPs. Leading in one or more statistical categories does not guarantee a player anything.
Here is a list of the contenders for the AL and NL MVPs and reasons why they deserve to have their names in the ring.
Miguel Cabrera should currently be considered the clear-cut frontrunner to win the AL MVP. If the season ended today, Cabrera would win the Triple Crown. He leads the league in average, runs batted in, slugging percentage and OPS. He is tied in the lead for most HRs with Texas' Josh Hamilton.
While winning the Triple Crown wouldn't necessarily guarantee Cabrera the award (see: Ted Williams), there simply isn't anyone else in baseball who has hit the ball like Miguel has this year.
The Tigers, alsok are currently in the lead in the AL Central. Although it is technically not supposed to influence the voting, players on teams that reach the postseason are often considered more favorably in MVP voting.
Los Angeles Angels center fielder Mike Trout seems to be the consensus second-best player in the AL this year.
He leads the AL in runs scored and stolen bases, and he's close to the top of the standings in OBP. His average is not far behind Cabrera's, and his lack of crazy power numbers makes his .952 OPS (good for second in the AL) that much more impressive.
Despite excellent hitting numbers, Trout's offensive stats do not compare to Cabrera's. Where Trout clearly has the upper hand on Cabrera, however, is in the field. Cabrera plays 3B for the Tigers, and he is a borderline liability out there with 13 errors.
Trout, on the other hand, plays a very good CF for the Angels. He has shown a lot of range in his first full season in the majors. If he upsets Cabrera in the voting, his play in the field will have been a major factor.
After a gruesome injury ended Buster Posey's season way too early last summer, he has come back in 2012 on a mission. His .337 average is tops in the NL (disregarding the disqualified Melky Cabrera). He is also on top of the standings in OBP.
While his numbers may not get him in alone, his compelling story may sway the voters. After a vicious collision at the plate left Buster with a broken ankle last year, he has come back and decided to stay at the position. He has played it admirably in his first year back.
The San Francisco Giants' regular-season success can also boost Posey into the MVP race lead. The Giants are the only team with a legitimate MVP contender heading into the postseason.
If it wasn't for the events surrounding Ryan Braun this past summer, he would most likely be considered the NL MVP favorite this year. (For a trip down memory lane, check out this CBS News article from when the story first broke.)
He leads the NL in home runs and OPS and is second in RBI.
While fans (particularly from Wiconsin) may have a short memory regarding Braun's positive test, and despite the fact that he won his appeal (on a technicality), the idea that he may have gotten away with PED use should be enough to make a second consecutive MVP a near impossibility.
At the beginning of the season, who would've thought that Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates would be in the discussion for NL MVP? But here we are in October, and not only is that the case, but McCutchen has a pretty good shot at the award.
While he doesn't lead in any of the major hitting categories, he is second behind Posey in AVG and OBP, and he is second behind Braun in SLG and OPS. Some might say that that gives McCutchen an advantage over both of them.
When one takes into account the fact that McCutchen has been arguably the best fielding center fielder in baseball this season, his chances of winning the NL MVP become very real indeed.
Follow my Twitter for updates on new articles and other random observations.