Unlike the American League MVP battle, which is a two-horse race between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, there is no shortage of candidates in the National League. Ultimately, an amazing second half should lead to a Buster Posey victory.
The San Francisco Giants catcher faces stiff competition from Milwaukee Brewers outfielder and last year's winner Ryan Braun, Pittsburgh Pirates superstar Andrew McCutchen and fellow catcher Yadier Molina of the St. Louis Cardinals, among others.
Prior to Posey's surge after the All-Star game, McCutchen had the inside track for the award. He led the Pirates into the playoff race, but the five-tool center fielder hit the skids over the final few months and Pittsburgh's postseason chances predictably followed suit.
His slump opened the door for Posey, who took full advantage. He hit .385 with 14 home runs, 60 runs batted in and 43 runs scored over his final 71 games. It helped the Giants pull away in the NL West, securing a spot in the playoffs.
He finished the season with the highest batting average in the majors at .336 and led the NL in wins above replacement (WAR) at 8.0 (Fangraphs). That combination alone is enough to warrant a lot of MVP consideration.
What really sets him apart from the pack, however, is how he carried the Giants on his back down the stretch. After all, it's an award based on a player's value to their team and not just stats.
Melky Cabrera's suspension, Pablo Sandoval's injuries and a terrible season from ace Tim Lincecum, put San Francisco in a tough spot. Making matters worse, the rival Los Angeles Dodgers were making huge trades in an attempt to take over the division lead.
Who should be the NL MVP?
They probably would have been successful if not for Posey. He put the team on his back when it mattered most, and the Giants were actually able to increase their lead despite all of the factors working against them.
When you look at Posey's competition, the same level of value isn't there. Braun and McCutchen both missed the playoffs and Molina had a lot more help in the Cardinals lineup from players like Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran and Allen Craig.
In Posey's case, the next best players in the lineup were often guys like Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco when Cabrera and Sandoval were both out. In other words, he didn't have much protection in the lineup and still produced.
An MVP award would add another key piece to an already impressive trophy case for the 25-year-old Georgia native. He's already won the Rookie of the Year Award and the Golden Spikes Award, which is given to the top amateur player in the United States.
No player in the National League was more important to his team than Posey, and the voters should reward him with the honor of MVP for his efforts.