MLB MVP 2013: Breaking Down Top Contenders for AL and NL

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MLB MVP 2013: Breaking Down Top Contenders for AL and NL
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It feels like the MVP races in both the American League and National League are unusually close this season with a handful of candidates in each seemingly deserving of the award. 

That's because we've seen some very impressive individual performances in 2013, many of which resulted in their respective teams earning postseason berths. 

With only a matter of days to go before we find out the MVP winners, here's a look at the top contenders in each league. 

American League

Chris Davis

Despite hitting 33 home runs a season ago, Chris Davis still came out of nowhere to lead the majors in home runs in 2013 with an eye-popping 53 clouts. 

While Davis' performance wasn't quite good enough to get the Orioles back into the postseason, that was no fault of the 27-year-old Texas native. 

Greg Fiume/Getty Images

His production slowed a bit following the All-Star Game, but Davis still managed to lead the league in a number of other offensive categories, so he's certainly an MVP contender. 

Unfortunately, Davis probably won't end up winning the award. One reason for that is that the impressive performances of Manny Machado and Adam Jones will likely take some votes away from him. 

Miguel Cabrera

As the reigning AL MVP, Miguel Cabrera had to be considered the favorite to repeat heading into the season, and his performance absolutely has him in the running once again. 

With a .348 batting average, Cabrera was the game's most consistent offensive threat. Given how much his presence means to the Tigers, he's got a strong case to bring home Detroit's third straight MVP award. 

Cabrera fell short of his second consecutive Triple Crown this season, but after he earned two AL Player of the Month Awards, one could make an ironclad argument about him being the league's best player this season.

That being said, this award is supposed to go to the player who is deemed to be the league's most valuable to his team, so there's at least one player that will definitely pose a threat to his chances. 

Mike Trout

The player who may challenge Cabrera this year could be the same one who narrowly lost out to Cabrera a year ago: Mike Trout. 

For the second consecutive year, Trout was the Angels' engine and provided for his team in a number of different ways. 

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

He hit 27 home runs, stole 33 bases and batted in 97 runs (up from 83 a year ago). Trout did everything he could to compensate for the continued struggles of former MVP's Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton in Anaheim. 

Trout may not have the gaudy home run numbers of Cabrera or Davis, but the sheer value of what he brought to the diamond every night, especially during the second half, is why he's my pick to win the 2013 AL MVP award. 

National League

Clayton Kershaw

All season long, Clayton Kershaw was consistently the most dominant pitcher the National League, which is why he's got to be considered a near-lock to win his second NL Cy Young Award. 

For the third consecutive season, Kershaw led the majors in ERA, indicative of how great L.A.'s ace was in 2013. 

Elsa/Getty Images

In fact, though still impressive, his 16-9 record doesn't even begin to indicate how important the three-time All-Star has been to the Dodgers' success, but winning the NL MVP award certainly would. 

Paul Goldschmidt

After hitting 20 homers a year ago, Paul Goldschmidt exploded for 36 round-trippers in 2013 to announce his arrival as one of the game's most dangerous offensive players. 

Denis Poroy/Getty Images

Despite playing on a .500 club in Arizona, Goldschmidt managed to lead the league in a number of offensive categories, and one can only imagine where his team would've been without him. 

At 26, he's only going to get better from here. In virtually any other season, he'd be the favorite for NL MVP, but unfortunately, there's one candidate who was slightly more impressive. 

Andrew McCutchen

After the Pittsburgh Pirates' incredibly demoralizing second-half collapse a year ago, Andrew McCutchen made sure that didn't happen again in 2013, as the three-time All-Star led his team back to the postseason for the first time in 21 years. 

Though he wasn't as offensively explosive as Goldschmidt, McCutchen, like Trout, brings many things to the table for the Pirates and was the biggest reason why they were able to bounce back after last season. 

He finished second in the NL in batting average, sixth in stolen bases, third in hits and was among the top 10 in a variety of other offensive categories. Defensively, he's as good a center fielder as there is in the game today. 

Goldschmidt will get his day, but in 2013, the NL MVP has to go to McCutchen. 

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