After an exciting 2015 regular season and postseason, Major League Baseball concluded its award presentations on Thursday with the announcement of the National League and American League MVP. The winners were determined by votes of 60 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who each ranked the top ten MVP candidates for his or her respective leagues.
Prior to the unveiling of the winners, Major League Baseball announced three finalists the award in each league. These three finalists received the top three most points based on votes. The American League finalists were Lorenzo Cain of the Kansas City Royals, Josh Donaldson of the Toronto Blue Jays, and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. The National League presented three finalists who all failed to qualify for the playoffs in Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals, and Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds.
Each first place vote counts as 14 points towards a players total, and each second place vote counts as only 9. The points continue to decrease by 1 all the way throughout the tenth place vote, which is worth 2 points. There was much debate over who would win the AL MVP: would it be Donaldson, coming off a career year in which his team made the playoffs, or last year’s MVP Mike Trout, who was statistically much better when analyzing advanced metrics. 23 of 30 voters gave the first place nod to Donaldson, who ended up winning the ballot by a final score of 385 to 304. Trout received 22 of the other 23 second place votes, while Seattle Mariners Designated Hitter Nelson Cruz received the other. This second place finish marks Trout’s third in four years.
Donaldson was well deserving of the MVP honor as he posted a .297/.371/.568 slash line to go along with 41 homers, 122 runs scored, 123 RBI, and a wRC+ of 154. Not only did Donaldson post excellent offensive numbers, but he also played tremendous defense at the hot corner, as he posted a defensive rating of 10.7.
The National League race was nowhere near as close, as Bryce Harper won all 30 first-place votes. Paul Goldschmidt finished second with 234 points and Joey Votto finished third with 175. This was a no brainer decision for the voters, as Bryce Harper’s breakout year marked the greatest offensive explosion since Barry Bonds’ days in the early 2000s. Just missing out on the batting title, Harper still posted a remarkable slash of .330/.460/.649 and hit 42 home runs. Harper’s remarkable walk rate of 19% trailed only Joey Votto and his wRC+ of 197 was the highest wRC+ recorded since Barry Bonds in 2004 and highest among people not named Bonds since Mark McGwire in 1998.
Baseball’s tremendous display of young stars was evident in MVP voting, as young studs such as Manny Machado, Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Mookie Betts, Kevin Kiermaier, Nolan Arenado, Carlos Correa and A.J. Pollock all received votes. Most interestingly, Alex Rodriguez even got one tenth place vote, courtesy of Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times.
Harper’s MVP season certainly silenced all critics and still is just a small glance at how good he will be in the near future.
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