MLB MVP 2012: Top NL and AL Candidates

Brandon McClintock@@BMcClintock_BSNCorrespondent IOctober 30, 2012

MLB MVP 2012: Top NL and AL Candidates

0 of 10

    The Most Valuable Player award in both the American and National League look like they boil down to a two-horse race this season.

    In the American League it appears it will come down to Angels' rookie-phenom Mike Trout or Tigers' Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera.

    In the National League the race appears to be between the Brewers Ryan Braun, the reigning 2011 NL MVP, and World Series champion Buster Posey.

    For the other candidates in both leagues, it looks like it may be a race for a third place finish in the voting.

    Here's a quick look at the top candidates in both leagues.

AL No. 5: Derek Jeter, New York Yankees

1 of 10

    Derek Jeter defied age this season and put up his second highest hit total of his career with a league-leading best 216 hits.

    He put together a .316 batting average, three points higher than his career average, at 38-years of age.

    Having a great season while providing a steady bat at the top of the Yankee batting order, and of course having the benefit of playing on the most recognizable team on the planet, should earn Jeter enough votes to place him in the top five.

    Predicted Finish in MVP Voting: 5th

NL No. 5: Adam LaRoche, Washington Nationals

2 of 10

    The Washington Nationals were the best team in the National League during the regular season and Adam LaRoche was their most consistent contributor.

    His .271 batting average definitely hurts his argument, but he connected for 33 homers and 100 RBI for the Nationals along their remarkable run to the playoffs.

    Predicted Finish in MVP Voting: 5th

AL No. 4: Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles

3 of 10

    The Baltimore Orioles were the surprise of baseball this season, challenging the New York Yankees for the division title all the way down to the end of the regular season.

    They wound up in the playoffs as the wild-card playoff winner, but they almost certainly would not have made it there were it not for their 27-year-old center fielder, Adam Jones. 

    Jones batted .287 for the season with 32 homers, 103 runs scored and 82 RBI.

    Of his 32 homers, though, four of them came extra innings, three sent the Orioles home winners.

    Seventeen of his homers gave Baltimore the lead in a game.

    Oh yeah, he also happens to be an excellent defensive center fielder.

    Predicted Finish in MVP Voting: 4th

NL No. 4: Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

4 of 10

    Albert who?

    Okay, that may be a bit of an exaggeration, but Yadier Molina did manage to become a better hitter this season than he was in 2011.

    He raised his batting average from .305 in 2011 to .315 in 2012. His homers also increased, up from 14 last season to 22 this season.

    Molina hit .328 in the second half to help lead St. Louis into the postseason.

    The long-time Cardinals catcher was definitely the MVP of a Cardinal team that fought the eventual World Series champion Giants to a Game 7 looking for a repeat World Series appearance.

    Predicted Finish in MVP Voting: 4th

AL No. 3: Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers

5 of 10

    Josh Hamilton finished second in the American League in both RBI (128) and home runs (43).

    Hamilton also finished near the top of the league in slugging percentage (.577) and extra-base hits (76).

    Hamilton put together a monster season in his walk-year and were it not for the play of Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, he could easily have been walking away with his second MVP award in three years.

    Of course, a slump at the most inopportune of moments down the stretch helped aid the Rangers' collapse and cost them the American League West Division title.

    The Rangers made the playoffs as one of the two wild-card teams, but lost to the Baltimore Orioles in the one-game playoff.

    Predicted Finish in MVP Vote: 3rd

NL No. 3: Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

6 of 10

    For much of the 2012 season Andrew McCutchen looked like the front-runner in the MVP race.

    Hurting his chances was the Pirates' drop from contention and out of the playoff hunt.

    Helping his chances is his .327 batting average (second in the league), 31 homers (eighth in the league), 96 RBI, 107 runs scored, 20 stolen bases and his league best 194 hits.

    At just 25-years-old, McCutchen will wind up winning one of these sooner rather than later if he can continue to put up numbers consistent with his 2012 totals.

    Predicted Finish in MVP Voting: 3rd

AL No. 2: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

7 of 10

    It's hard to believe that Mike Trout just turned 21-years-old in August of this season.

    The rookie put up eye-popping numbers, batting .326 with 30 homers, 83 RBI and leading the league in runs scored with 129 and stolen bases with 49.

    He finished second for the batting title behind only Miguel Cabrera, was third in on-base percentage, third in slugging percentage, third in on-base plus slugging (OPS), third in triples and led the league in the sabermetric WAR stat with a robust 10.7.

    Oh yeah, he wasn't called up until April 28th, in the Angels' 21st game of the season.

    Although I am not predicting he wins the award, there would be no shock or argument at all if he was awarded the MVP in his first season in the Majors (he did play 40 games in the Majors in 2011 as well).

    Predicted Finish in MVP Vote: 2nd

NL No. 2: Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

8 of 10

    The reigning NL MVP had another season worthy of winning the hardware in 2012.

    He batted .319 with a league-leading 41 homers and 108 RBI for the Brewers. He finished third in the batting title race.

    Braun led the National League in OPS and total bases as well.

    Fairly or not, he is likely to suffer a little in the voting from a PED scandal and announced 50-game suspension last offseason that he appealed and won.

    He was not suspended for a single game, but the memory and stigma will likely stick in the minds of at least a few voters.

    Predicted Finish in MVP Voting: 2nd

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers

9 of 10

    It's certainly hard to argue with voting the man who hit for the first Triple Crown since 1967 as the MVP.

    Miguel Cabrera had a historic season, leading the American League in batting average (.330), home runs (44) and RBI (139) while leading his Detroit Tigers to the American League Central Division Title and an American League Pennant.

    He also led the league in slugging percentage and on-base plus slugging and finished fourth in on-base percentage.

    He did all of this while being moved (back) to third base to accommodate the signing of first baseman Prince Fielder.

    Trout is an all-around better player, but again, how can you argue with the first Triple Crown since 1967?

    Predicted Finish in MVP Voting: 1st

NL MVP: Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

10 of 10

    He's your 2012 National League batting champion.

    He's a 2012 World Series champion, for the second time in his three-year career.

    On the strength of a second half in which he batted .385 along the way to leading the San Francisco Giants into the postseason, Buster Posey likely secured his first MVP award.

    He finished the season with a league best .336 batting average and career highs in homers (24) and RBI (103).

    Following a horrific collision at home plate in 2011 that cut his season short, he returned to win the NL Comeback Player of the Year award this season and earn his first trip to the All-Star Game as a starter.

    He was the National League leader in the WAR (wins above replacement player) statistic with a 7.2 score.

    His 2010 World Series ring was accompanied by the Rookie of the Year award. His 2012 World Series ring will likely be accompanied by a MVP award.

    Predicted Finish in MVP Voting: 1st