The first third of the 2012 MLB season is now on the books and the season is beginning to approach the midway point. For teams, this is the part of the season where durability is tested and teams start to show whether or not they have what it takes to contend. For fans, this part of the season means it’s no longer too early to start discussing who the best players in baseball are. This is especially true in the National League, where a handful of players so far have made strong cases for the NL MVP award.
If individual play is the only metric being considered, then it’s hard to make the case for anyone besides Colorado’s Carlos Gonzalez to win the award. The 26 year old is currently leading the league in homeruns with 15, and his .321 average puts him in ninth. He’s also come through for the Rockies when they’ve needed him most, ranking second in the NL so far with 45 RBIs. The only major knock on him is that he’s doing this on a bad team – the Rockies are currently 24-31, trailing the division-leading LA Dodgers by 11 games.
Melky Cabrera is another strong candidate for the NL MVP award. The leftfielder is leading the National League right now with a .366 average. He’s done this while taking 230 at-bats, only five less than Michael Bourn, the National League leader. He’s not a particularly powerful hitter – his four homeruns to date don’t even place him in the top 70 – but his consistency at the plate and ability to score runs makes him one of the Giants’ most valuable assets. Cabrera is a strong candidate for the MVP award and he’s going to be a key player to watch for the remainder of the season.
Aside from Gonzalez and Cabrera, there’s a third name in the MVP race that will be very familiar to fans: Joey Votto. The 2010 NL MVP is having an impressive season. At first glance, his numbers are actually average for an MVP candidate. He’s tenth in the league with 65 hits, fourth with a .348 average and just outside of the top ten for RBIs with 35. Still, that only tells part of the story. The Reds first baseman leads the National League in both slugging percentage and on base percentage. He’s been walked 46 times, a number that easily ranks him first in the National League. With a combination of a strong season and the fact that he’s won the award before, Votto’s name deserves to be in the discussion for NL MVP.
Yet another interesting candidate for MVP is New York’s David Wright. The Mets third baseman has been one of the brightest spots on a surprisingly competitive ballclub. Wright is doing a little bit of everything this year: His .359 average is second in the National League only to Melky Cabrera, and his 19 doubles are good for third. He’s also ranked second in the league for on base percentage.
Other names will come up during the rest of the season for the NL MVP award. 2011’s MVP, Ryan Braun, has only seen a slight dip in his numbers this season and could turn it around at any moment. Other players, including Hunter Pence and Carlos Ruiz, have had strong seasons in one category but not in others. Even though players such as Gonzelez and Cabrera have played very well until this point, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played. No matter who wins the award, it will be fun for fans to watch as the NL’s top players each make their case for being named Most Valuable Player.
This is a guest post submitted by Don Phan. Don currently writes sports content for blogs part-time and is with FansEdge full-time as a marketing associate. FansEdge is a leading retailer of licensed sports fan merchandise and boasts an immense selection of Major League Baseball apparel including MLB shirts, jerseys, hats and novelty items.