Top-Six National League MVPs from Losing Teams
As the pennant chases heat up and the weather cools off into the October chill that we all enjoy, the discussion of MVP comes into play.
Traditionally, fans see the MVP as a player with great stats on a team that made the postseason, or a team that was in contention until the very end.
However, after reading another article about someone's NL MVP prediction, I decided that I would search for the player that truly met the MVP criteria.
A true Most Valuable Player is someone that a team cannot afford to lose. Without his production, the team would descend into the depths of the league, never to be heard from again until Spring Training next season.
In my opinion, an MVP could, but does not have to, come from a winning team.
I believe this because even though he is on a winning team and putting up good-to-great numbers, he is doing so because he has a lot of good players around him. He is not the central component to the team's production.
So, without further delay, here are the players I believe should be considered for MVP.
Note: None of these players would be considered for MVP, as all are on losing teams or teams who will not make the playoffs.
Matt Holliday, OF, Colorado Rockies (57-69)
.339 AVG, 23 HR, 72 RBI, 87 R, 19 SB, .427 OBP.
Truth be told, the Rockies surprised everyone last season with their magical late-season run that carried them to the World Series. This year, the Rockies were held to higher expectations.
Their young pitching staff was looked upon to improve upon last season's numbers. The young lineup was supposed to be better, now that they had more experience. They were expected to contend for the NL West and possibly contend for another World Series.
However, the team did not exactly live up to those expectations. They went 11-17 in April and 9-18 in May. They have only had one month with an above-.500 mark, July, when they went 17-11.
The one constant in this season has been Holliday. He leads the team in runs scored, doubles, HR, walks, AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS. He would also be first in hits and RBI if he did not have an injury that cost him time. The Rockies would definitely be a lot worse without him in their lineup.
Adrian Gonzalez, 1B, San Diego Padres (48-76)
.277 AVG, 28 HR, 89 RBI, 72 R, .354 OBP.
The Padres have made a complete about-face since last season. They have gone from the doorstep of October baseball to the cellar of the National League. This season, their pitching staff has been decimated by injuries, and their anemic offense continues to do nothing, as they are the second-worst offense in baseball.
They are averaging 3.8 runs per game with Gonzalez. Without him crossing the plate once, they average 3.2 runs per game. Their 457 RBI lose a huge piece if Gonzalez does not play, as it is reduced to a far-and-away league worst 368. He leads the team in AB, R, H, HR, RBI, SLG, and OPS. Without Gonzalez, the Padres might not have even won 40 games by now.
Chipper Jones, 3B, Atlanta Braves (56-69)
.363 AVG, 19 HR, 61 RBI, 65 R, 2 SB, .460 OBP.
The biggest buzz around the Atlanta Braves this season has been Chipper's flirting with a .400 AVG come season's end. The Braves were originally thought to be a dark horse contender for the NL East in Spring Training, but injuries to John Smoltz, Tom Glavine, their bullpen, Yunel Escobar, and Chipper have made this a tough season in Atlanta.
It culminated in the trading of Georgia native Mark Teixeira to the Angels. While his season has been riddled with injuries, Chipper has continued to hit. While he will probably not hit .400, he will still have a very good average by the end of the season—in the low .360s or high .350s.
He leads the team in H, R, BB, AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS. Even though the Braves are clearly out of the playoff hunt, Chipper has continued to play well, even though he has only played in 98 games.
Brian McCann, C, Atlanta Braves (56-69)
.302 AVG, 21 HR, 69 RBI, 52 R, 4 SB, .378 OBP.
McCann has continued to prove that he is one of the best catchers in the major leagues. He leads all catchers in doubles, HR, RBI, SLG, and OPS. He and Chipper Jones have helped to lead this struggling Braves team through the tough times this season, and he will continue to be a leader on this team and one of the premier young catchers in the game today.
Lance Berkman, 1B, Houston Astros (63-62)
.330 AVG, 25 HR, 89 RBI, 96 R, 15 SB, .428 OBP.
"The Big Puma" was involved in early MVP, triple crown, and .400 talks, with fellow switch-hitter Chipper Jones in May and June. While those talks have somewhat subsided, Berkman has continued to put up very good numbers for the Astros. Berkman leads the 'Stros in R, H, 2B, 3B, BB, AVG, OBP, SLG, and OPS. With Berkman guaranteed $14.5M for the next two years, we should look to see this consistency from Berkman continue in Houston.
Carlos Lee, OF, Houston Astros (63-62)
.314 AVG, 28 HR, 100 RBI, 61 R, 4 SB, .368 OBP.
Overshadowed in the NL Central by the Cubs, Brewers, and Cardinals, and overshadowed in Houston by Lance Berkman, Carlos Lee has quietly put up big numbers for the Astros this season.
Even though he was recently put on the DL with a broken finger, Lee is considered co-MVP in Houston with Berkman. Without these two players, who combine to lead just about every offensive category, the 'Stros would most likely be somewhere in the mid-40s in wins.
Like Berkman, Lee is locked up in Houston with $18.5M a year until 2012. Unless the Astros are presented a golden offer for either or both of these two, Lee and Berkman will continue to put up big numbers in Houston.
Well that's my list. If you have any others, feel free to leave them in a comment.
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