Colorado Rockies: Nolan Arenado The Leader in Crowded NL MVP Race

When the 2017 MLB began, Bryce Harper was the clear front-runner for the NL MVP. Then on August 12th, Harper went down with a significant bone bruise to his knee, which put a serious damper on his MVP hopes. As a result, fans of the Colorado Rockies, Arizona Diamonbacks, Miami Marlins and Los Angeles Dodgers immediately pushed their candidate to the top of the list.

So as a fan whose favorite team resides in the American League, who also happens to be a big fan of a lot of these candidates on the individual level, I am here to break down this NL MVP race. And spoiler alert, when we reach the end, Nolan Arenado is going to be the most deserving candidate.

Now, let’s take a look at some of the main factors that will be used in determining the winner. For starters, offensive stats across the board are always going to be looked at as a major component. Second, whether you like it or not, voters are going to account for the team a player plays for. If the team is not really in playoff contention, the player is gonna be held accountable to a certain extent. Finally, the most underrated portion, defense.

With that said, let’s meet our prime contenders. First off, we have Nolan Arenado, the third baseman for the Colorado Rockies. Then there is first baseman Paul Goldschmidt of the Arizona Diamondbacks. Don’t forget about the home run machine Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins. Rookie sensation Cody Bellinger of the Los Dodgers. And of course, you can’t completely rule out Bryce Harper of the Washington Nationals.

So let’s get into it, shall we? (Stat-lines based on stats entering Saturday 9/16 play)

Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies

Stat-line: .308 average, 34 homers, 124 RBIs, 91 runs, .590 slugging, .961 OPS, 145 games

Want to talk about an all-around player? Then look no further than Mr. Arenado. He can hit for average. Power is most certainly there. He is clearly a team leader along with the bearded Charlie Blackmon (who could very easily be included on this list as well). And of course, the defense is unreal.

In regards to offense, he hits all the major checkpoints you want to see from an MVP. He is leading MLB in RBIs by over 10. While he is not running away with any other metrics, he is a top contender in just about every one of them. When you need a clutch hit, you would certainly feel confident if the Rockies third baseman stepped to the plate.

As for the defense, there simply is no one better. This is where he simply stands out from the field. He has played four seasons, and has won four Gold Gloves. This year will certainly mark five. He makes the hard plays look routine. In other words, he is a player you look forward to watching when you go to the ballpark. He leads third baseman in assists and is second in double plays turned at the position. His career fielding percentage is .970%.

Finally, the Rockies currently hold the second Wild Card slot. So no one can bash him because he did not get his team into playoff contention.

Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks

Stat-line: .309 average, 34 homers, 113 RBIs, 107 runs, .584 slugging, 1.000 OPS, 142 games

If I was not voting for Arenado, Goldy would be my mine. And the reasoning is really quite simple. For starters, look at their stat lines. Overall, they are extremely similar. Average and homers are virtually identical. Arenado has the edge in RBIs, while Goldy has the lead in runs.

In regards to defense, Goldy is no slouch either. He is a two-time Gold Glove winner as well, winning the award in 2013 and 2015. He has actually committed fewer errors this season than Arenado. But that cannot be taken at face value because Arenado plays the more defensively demanding position. So while Goldy is a tremendous defender in his own right, Arenado gets the edge in that category given position and how sensationally he plays it.

In terms of team performance, the DBacks are a bit ahead of the Rockies. However, they too hold a Wild Card position. So that alone is not going to give Goldy much of an edge in this debate over his division rival. So while I love Goldy and his play, the edge still goes to Arenado.

Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

Stat-line: .278 average, 54 homers, 113 RBIs, 111 runs, .633 slugging, 1.007 OPS,  144 games

We are going to keep this nice and simple. Stanton got himself into this race because of his historic and ultra impressive home run barrage in the not so distant past. As you can see, that 54 home run total is mighty impressive. He has a double-digit lead over Aaron Judge in the stat, which alone is jaw-dropping.

But at the end of the day, that is only one metric. Yes the rest of his offensive numbers are impressive, despite a batting average about 30 points below the two guys previously discussed. While his defense is not bad, it is not at the Gold Glove level.

Finally, you get to that dreaded “how is his team” debate. The Marlins entered play Saturday 11 games below .500. They are on the cusp of being eliminated from playoff contention. So when votes are being cast, that will certainly play a factor. So as much as I love watching Stanton swing the bat, he will not be your 2017 NL MVP.

Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers

Stat-line: .273 average, 37 homers, 86 RBIs, 82 runs, .604 slugging, .961 OPS, 117 game

Cody Bellinger is having one hell of a rookie season. There is no denying that. If you look at his numbers, you would never guess this was a guy who is getting his first taste of Major League pitching. However, as a whole, these numbers simply do not hold as much weight as the ones from the guys above. The kid is a future star, and virtually a lock for the Rookie of the Year, but MVP is going to have to wait.

He plays for the team with the best record in baseball. So that is not an issue. His defense, certainly not at the level as an Arenado or Goldy. So when you include those factors along with offensive numbers that do not blow the other ones out of the water, you have a guy who will likely finish around 5th or 6th in the MVP voting.

Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

Stat-line: .326 average, 29 homers, 87 RBIs, 92 runs, .614 slugging, 1.033 OPS, 106 games

If Harper did not get hurt, he surely would have won the MVP if he continued on the pace he was one. His batting average is the best of this group. He would have hit roughly 40 homers. He would have been over 100 in runs and RBIs. His slugging and OPS would have been outstanding. However, August 12th happened.

Unfortunatley for Harper and his fans, that injury essentially takes him out of the running. While his numbers are still impressive, he is going to be missing 50+ games of stats. Those are 50 or so games where Arenado and

So there you have it folks. While these are all certainly strong contenders, this writer is going to go with Nolan Arenado. The man has been a stud for years and finally deserves this top honors. His time is now. From his stellar bat, to his leadership to his top of the line Gold Glove defense, this man is an NL MVP if I ever saw one.

What do you think? Who is deserving of the 2017 NL MVP? Tell us your thoughts in the comments!

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