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IBWAA NL MVP – Daniel Murphy

If you were to choose your statistic, the best hitter in the National League all season was Daniel Murphy.  Here were his rankings in important offensive statistics from the 2016 season:
  • Batting Average .347 – second
  • OBP .390 – seventh
  • Slugging .595 – first
  • OPS .985 – first
  • Doubles 47 – first
  • Homers 25 – 24th
  • RBI 104 – fourth
  • Offensive WAR  5.7 – third
  • OPS+ 157 – third
  • wRC+ 156 – second

The fact that Murphy did this as a second baseman is astounding.  You would have to go back all the way to 1975 – 1976 with Joe Morgan to find a second baseman that was the top hitter in the National League.  When you are put in the same category as Joe Morgan, you know that Murphy had a special year.

Murphy was also a huge difference in why the Nationals won the National League East this season.  Last year’s MVP, Bryce Harper, had a down year by his standards.  For example, Harper from a massive 198 OPS+ to a slighly above-average 116 OPS+.  When your team’s best player takes a huge step backwards, someone needs to step up, and they need to step up in a big way.  Murphy absolutely did that.  In fact, Murphy was to the Nationals what Harper was in 2015.  Murphy led his team in batting average, OBP, slugging, OPS, OPS+, doubles, homers, and RBI.

Murphy also annihilated his former team, who also happened to be the only real challenge to the Nationals in the division.  Murphy had a 19 game hitting streak against the Mets hitting .413/.444/.773 with six doubles, seven homers, and 21 RBI.  He was a huge reason why the Nationals were 12-7 against a Mets team they put in their rear-view mirror.  Quite possibly, without Murphy, the Nationals do not win the division.  Largely because of that, Murphy is my choice for the National League MVP.

Second – Kris Bryant

While Murphy was the MVP, Bryant was probably the best player in the National League as evidenced by him being the league leader in WAR (7.7).  Bryant also led the league in runs scored, and his 37 homers were good for third in the National League.

It is also notable with Kyle Schwarber suffering a season ending injury on the second game of the season, Bryant bought in and played anywhere and everywhere Joe Maddon asked him to play.  Bryant was not only a good defensive third baseman, but he also proved to be a good left fielder.  Overall, he was everything you want in a player.

In reality, he lost out on the MVP as he really wasn’t the most valuable.  While the Nationals had a down year from Harper and another injury plagued season from Stephen Strasburg, the Cubs had a loaded lineup and a loaded rotation.  It is why they ran away with the National League Central.  In reality, even without Bryant, the Cubs run away with the Central.  While we can argue whether or not it matters, the fact is that the voting rules (if you are following the BBWAA standard) state they do.  With that Bryant finishes second.  It’s an extremely close second, but second nevertheless.

Third – Corey Seager

Seager was not only the Rookie of the Year, he was an outstanding player in the National League.  He played an outstanding shortstop, and he hit .308/.365/.512 with 40 doubles, 26 homers, and 72 RBI.  His 6.1 WAR was the second best from any player that played in the postseason this year.  Overall, Seager was a constant on a Dodgers club that faced a lot of adversity and won the National League West.

Fourth – Nolan Arenado

At some point you have to throw standings aside and just admire greatness.  Arenado once against proved what a great player he is.  Not only is the best defensive third baseman in baseball, he also led the National League in homers (40) and RBI (133).  This man is a superstar. The only reason why he is not treated as such is his market and his team consistently failing to compete for a postseason spot.

Fifth – Anthony Rizzo

Rizzo was the second best first baseman in the National League, the second best player in his division, and he was the second best player on his team.  Rizzo just had a monster year that saw him hit .292/.385/.544 with 43 doubles, 32 homers, and 108 RBI.  Like Bryant, you could remove him from the team, and they still win the Central.  Like Bryant, he was a big reason why this team was the most dominant team in baseball.

Sixth – Yoenis Cespedes

Cespedes proved his hot streak with the Mets last year was no fluke as he hit .280/.354/.530 with 25 doubles, 35 homers, and 108 RBI.  In games he played, the Mets were 74-58.  In games he didn’t play, the Mets were 13-17.  His numbers and the Mets record would have been a lot better had he not been hobbled for a quad injury for a good part of the season.

Seventh – Freddie Freeman

Without Freeman having a monster year, the Braves would’ve actually challenged the 1962 Mets for the worst single season record in baseball history.  Freeman hit .302/.400/.569 with 43 doubles, 34 homers, and 91 RBI.  He very well could have been the best first baseman in all of baseball.  By WAR, he was the second best player in the National League all season.  Unfortunately, his great season gets lost in what was another poor year for the Braves.

Eighth – Joey Votto

Like Freeman, Votto had a great season lost amid what was a terrible season for his team.  Votto hit .326/.434/.550 with 34 doubles, 29 homers, and 97 RBI.  In the second half, his OBP was an unbelievable .490.  It was a large reason why he led the league in both OBP and OPS+.

Ninth – Christian Yelich

Believe it or not, Yelich was the best outfielder in the National League in 2016 (as per WAR).  This season, Yelich took the next step everyone was waiting for him to take in his path to becoming a star.  In 155 games, Yelich hit .298/.376/.483 with 38 doubles, 21 homers, and 98 RBI.  He did this while playing a solid left field, which for him is a disappointment.

Tenth – Asdrubal Cabrera

Cabrera dealt with a knee issue that was part of the reason why he struggled in the field and at the plate for the early part of the year.  Finally, the injury got to the point where he was forced to the disabled list.  Right before he came off the disabled list, the Mets were 60-61 leaving them 4.5 games behind the second Wild Card.  Worse yet, the Mets were behind three teams for that spot.

From August 19th on, Cabrera was the best hitter in baseball hitting .345/.406/.635 with 11 doubles, one triple, 10 homers, and 29 RBI.  Behind his hot hitting, the Mets finished the season on a 27-14 tear soaring to the top spot in the Wild Card race.  If not for his hot bat, the Mets may very well have found themselves on the outside looking in come this postseason.

 

 

8. Joey Votto
9. Christian Yelich
10. Asdrubal Cabrera

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