The National League MVP will be announced Thursday night, with Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen, Arizona Diamonadbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina as the three finalists.
Regardless of who wins, it will be his first MVP award. It figures to be a tight competition, with each of the three having a legitimate argument.
McCutchen would be the seventh different Pirates player to win MVP and the first since Barry Bonds in 1992.
Pirates Win Percentage
By Season Since 2010
McCutchen had arguably the best season by a Pirates player since Bonds, ranking second among National League position players in Wins Above Replacement.
He rated in the top seven in the NL in all three slashline stats (batting average, on-base percentage and slugging percentage), as well as doubles and stolen bases. He also had a career-high seven Defensive Runs Saved and was a finalist for the Gold Glove Award in center field.
Goldschmidt is trying to become the first Diamondbacks player to win the MVP Award. The highest finish by a Diamondbacks player in the MVP race is third, by Matt Williams in 1999 and Luis Gonzalez in 2001.
Goldschmidt finished third among position players in Wins Above Replacement. He had the best offensive numbers of the three finalists, leading the NL in OPS, home runs and RBIs. He also won a Gold Glove for his defense at first base, ranking second in the NL in Defensive Runs Saved.
Goldschmidt also became known for his penchant for big hits. He had a major league high eight go-ahead or game-tying homers in the seventh inning or later.
Cardinals players have previously won 20 MVP Awards. Albert Pujols has won the last three of those, in 2005, 2008 and 2009.
Most Wins Above Replacement
NL Catchers in 2013
The last Cardinals player other than Pujols to win was Willie McGee in 1985. The last Cardinals catcher to win an MVP was Bob O’Farrell in 1926 (who was best known for throwing out Babe Ruth on a steal attempt to end that year’s World Series).
Molina had his third straight solid offensive season, with a .319/.359/.477 slashline, 12 home runs and 44 doubles. He was his usually stellar self behind the plate, winning his sixth straight Gold Glove Award.