I was tempted to publish a two word post here: Bryce Harper.
The NL Musial this year, is with the NL MVP, should be unanimous. Harper blew everyone away. I suppose some voter somewhere might list Harper somewhere other than first based on one of these ideas:
His teammates underperformed. Playing on one of the best NL rosters in recent memory, Harper couldn’t single-handedly will Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann to play like they did in 2014. He couldn’t heal Denard Span’s wounds or bring Stephen Strasburg back at 100% from the beginning of the year. Then again, the next three position players in fWAR in the NL played for teams with worse records than Washington’s. Harper did trail Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant in Win Probability Added, but his 6.25 WPA was actually better than Josh Donaldson’s, and he’s about to win the MVP award because of his clutchiness. Zack Greinke also led Harper in WPA. I guess that brings us to…
You’d prefer a pitcher. I don’t really understand the fascination with giving a pitcher both of the major awards and giving nothing to any of the other eight guys on the field, but I suppose in a year in which a pitcher stands out more than any position player, a pitcher might have been the most valuable. The problem is that there was so much dominant pitching in the NL this year that no one could possibly have stood out the way Harper did. I don’t like to include any pitchers on this ballot (Musial never did much pitching, after all), but you’ll see below that I’ve made an exception for the guys who had historic seasons this year. None of them did what Harper did though. The only other reason I can think of is that…
People hate Bryce Harper. I won’t tell anyone how to feel, but let’s remember that Roger Clemens won an MVP. Barry Bonds won seven. It’s not the Roberto Clemente Humanitarian Award. Speaking of Bonds, he was probably the last guy to put up better numbers than this:
That’s Harper’s slash line, not over a series against the Braves or two weeks in May, but for a 153-game season. One in which he hit 42 homers and 38 doubles, was intentionally walked 15 times, and provided positive value on the bases. His defense wasn’t great, and Jonathan Papelbon doesn’t think he ran hard enough. That’s about all Harper did wrong.
Here’s a full ballot:
1. Bryce Harper
2. Zack Greinke
3. Jake Arrieta
4. Clayton Kershaw
5. Paul Goldschmidt
6. Joey Votto
7. Anthony Rizzo
8. Buster Posey
9. A.J. Pollock
10. Kris Bryant
Both Greinke and Arrieta get some credit for their batting in this ballot. You’ll see what I thought of their pitching when
I figure out how I’m going to vote I post my Walter Johnson Award ballots later this week.