Buster Posey ran away with the NL MVP award, handed out on Thursday, and with good reason. As the best player on a title-winning team, he was a pretty obvious choice. Not only that, but he was the only player in the top three of the balloting that was on a contending team as the season came to a close – typically a criteria for many voters.
While Posey may have held on to his award no matter what anybody else in the league did, there was a point during the season when he had some competition. Before the Pittsburgh Pirates collapse, Andrew McCutchen was right there with Posey.
There’s little doubt that the Pirates collapse cost McCutchen any chance he had at winning the award. Sure, McCutchen’s .247 batting average over the last 56 games of the season didn’t help, but considering he still ended up hitting .327, that likely would have gone relatively unnoticed had the Pirates remained competitive. Ultimately, it was the fact that his poor final two months coinsided with the failures of the rest of his teammates that knocked him out of real consideration.
It’s a trend that will continue if the Pirates don’t surround McCutchen with a better supporting cast. While McCutchen struggled down the stretch, he was also unbelievibly good in the middle of the summer. As it was happening, it felt like a sustainable level of play, but more than likely, it was not. After his illustrious career is complete in a decade or so, we may very well look back on McCutchen’s 2012 season as the best of his career.
Which doesn’t mean he can’t win an MVP award.
Just because this may be the best season of his career doesn’t mean he can’t repeat it as he enters his prime. Without better teammates heping him get more wins, he’ll struggle to get any closer to an MVP award than he did this year.
But if the Pirates can get him a little help, McCutchen could win an MVP award with even less production than he had in 2012.
Despite being an individual award, the MVP is a team effort. It’s incredibly difficult to win the award without making the playoffs, or at the very least, being in contention into the final week of the season. Andrew McCutchen showed in 2012 that he has the ability to compete for the most prestegious award in baseball, but he’ll need some help from his teammates if he wants