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Top 15 Candidates to Win 2013 MLB NL MVP Award

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Top 15 Candidates to Win 2013 NL MVP

mvp
Ed Szczepanski-US PRESSWIRE

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey is the reigning National League Most Valuable Player after his dominate performance in 2012. The following 15 players will be playing hard to overthrow Posey next November. Which one of them will be crowned the NL MVP in 2013?

Some of the players in this slideshow were candidates for the 2012 MVP Award while others will be looking to make a name for themselves next year. MVP candidates Posey, Milwaukee Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun, Pittsburgh Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen, St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and San Diego Padres third baseman Chase Headley who rounded out the top five this past season will still be contenders in 2013 but definitely not in that order.

There are always some players who ranked 11-19 in the MVP rankings in the previous season that jump into the top 10 the next year. I predict there will be a few players that are capable of doing that with some of them even making it into the top five.

These predictions will also depend on how well each given team does next season. It is no secret that the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the voters who decide the winner of the MVP Award in each league, tends to favor players on winning teams opposed to those who are not. For instance, many people believe Braun beat out Matt Kemp for the NL MVP Award in 2011 because the Brewers had a franchise-best 96 wins and won the NL Central.

Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.

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#15 Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves

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Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Jason Heyward had a decent statistical season in 2012, but more importantly, he helped the Atlanta Braves reach the postseason as a Wild Card. Unfortunately, the fun ran short as the Cardinals defeated the Braves in the single-elimination playoff game. Heyward finished 29th in the MVP voting as he received seven total votes. However, I believe the 23-year-old right fielder will finally get it together and break into the top 15 in 2013.

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#14 Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds

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Kelley L Cox-US PRESSWIRE

Right fielder Jay Bruce finished the 2012 season 10th in the MVP voting with a total of 46 points, as his highest vote was for a fourth place finish. His 34 home runs last season was good for third in the NL while he came up one RBI short of reaching the 100 mark for the first time in his career. The fact that Bruce is only 25 years old and has already played five seasons in his career means he should finish in the top three at some point in the near future.

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#13 Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals

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Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

St. Louis left fielder Matt Holliday had another great season as he continues to be a dominating force in his eighth year. Holliday’s batting average dipped another point in 2012 but he made up for it with his power. The 32-year-old posted 27 home runs, 36 doubles and 102 RBIs. However, he also recorded the most strikeouts of his career with 132. Holliday finished 11th in the MVP rankings with 34 total points, 12 points shy of Bruce. The fact Holliday was on another postseason team certainly helped him in the voting process but I believe he will drop in next year’s rankings.

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#12 Ian Desmond, Washington Nationals

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Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Shortstop Ian Desmond was elected to his first All-Star team and was named a Silver Slugger for the first time in his career this past season. Desmond may have finished 17th in the MVP voting in 2012 but I firmly believe his stock is rising. It also helps that the 27-year-old plays for a very talented Washington Nationals team that should be contenders for years to come. Desmond posted by far the best numbers in his three years in the majors, as he ranked first among NL shortstops in batting average (.292), as well as, home runs (25) and second in RBIs (78).

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#11 Craig Kimbrel, Atlanta Braves

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Anthony Gruppuso-US PRESSWIRE

Craig Kimbrel had another phenomenal season in his second full year at the big league level. He led the NL in saves (42) for the second consecutive season and was a dominate force in Atlanta’s bullpen. The 24-year-old also posted a league-high 1.01 ERA among relievers who made at least 24 appearances. It is rare for relievers or closers to be mentioned in MVP talks, but Kimbrel finished eighth in the NL rankings this past season and even received a second place vote.

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#10 Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

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Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

Clayton Kershaw followed up his 2011 Cy Young Award season with another solid performance in 2012. The 24-year-old was an All-Star for the second time in his career, won the Roberto Clemente Award and was the MLB ERA Champion for the second consecutive season. Kershaw is my prediction to win the Cy Young Award in 2013 and I believe he could be a legitimate contender for the MVP Award as well. Kershaw finished 16th in the MVP rankings this past season.

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#9 David Wright, New York Mets

wright
Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Third baseman David Wright ranked sixth in the MVP voting this past season as he received seven fifth place votes. Wright has consistently posted solid numbers the last few years and has done his part to try and keep the New York Mets afloat in the NL East. However, I do believe Wright’s numbers will drop off a bit next season, which will cause him to fall in the rankings.

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#8 Chase Headley, San Diego Padres

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Jake Roth-US PRESSWIRE

Chase Headley had the best overall statistical season of his five-year career as he posted a .286 batting average, 31 home runs, 115 RBIs, 31 doubles and 17 stolen bases. The closest Headley has ever come to his 2012 home run and RBI total was in 2009 when he hit 12 homers and knocked in 64 runs. Headley finished this past season fifth in the MVP voting with one fourth place vote. He also received a Gold Glove Award, as well as, a Silver Slugger Award for the first time of his career and was named the NL RBI champion.

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#7 Aramis Ramirez, Milwaukee Brewers

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Milwaukee third baseman Aramis Ramirez started off the 2012 season slowly but finished with a bang as the Brewers came up just short of a postseason berth. Ramirez led the league in doubles (50) and was fourth in RBIs (105) this past season. He finished ninth in the MVP voting as he barely edged out Bruce by one point. Ramirez will rise in the rankings next season due to a mix of steady production and the Brewers becoming contenders.

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#6 Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals

molina
Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

As good as Molina is offensively, he is even better behind the plate. Molina has to be considered one of the best catchers in the game as he consistently ranks at the top of the league in defensive categories. The 30-year-old finished fourth in the MVP voting with two first place, six second place and eight third place votes. Molina’s solid play on offense and defense was good enough to get him a fourth place finish, but the fact that the Cardinals reached the postseason again definitely had something to do with it.

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#5 Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals

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Jeff Curry-US PRESSWIRE

Rookie sensation Bryce Harper was named an All-Star and won the NL Rookie of the Year Award. He may have finished 31st in the MVP voting this past season but I believe Harper will be able to soar high above expectations in 2013. Harper batted .341 with 10 home runs and five stole bases in his last 34 games of the season, which proves he is ready to take his game to the next level. Expect to see him ranked in the top 10 next November.

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#4 Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants

posey
H. Darr Beiser-USA TODAY

Posey may not have been the best player in baseball in 2012 but he was certainly the most accomplished. Not only was he named the NL MVP but he was also crowned the MLB batting champion, NL Comeback Player of the Year, NL Hank Aaron Award winner, an All-Star and to top it all of he was a World Series champion. As good as Posey was this past season, I do not see him repeating that success. He will still have a solid year for the Giants but do not expect to see him in the top three next November.

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#3 Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh Pirates

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Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

Pittsburgh’s McCutchen finished third in the MVP voting in 2012 as he received six second place, 13 third place, 11 fourth place, one fifth place and one seventh place votes. McCutchen certainly had a breakout year, as his .327 batting average was good for second in the NL. He also recorded 31 home runs and 96 RBIs, both of which were career highs. McCutchen won a Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award and was the NL Most Outstanding Player. I believe the best has yet to come for the 26-year-old, as he will be right in the thick of it next year.

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#2 Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds

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Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Joey Votto was certainly on pace for his second MVP Award in three years before he needed surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee. He missed 51 games and never truly recovered from the injury when he returned to the lineup. Votto was leading the NL in walks, doubles, on-base percentage and extra-base hits when he was taken out of the lineup. The 29-year-old still managed to hit .337 with 14 home runs, 56 RBIs, 44 doubles and 94 walks. As long as Votto’s knee and back remain healthy next year, I would be shocked if he did not finish in the top three for MVP.

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#1 Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers

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Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE

Braun followed up his phenomenal 2011 MVP season with another great year, even with the intense scrutiny he was under during the off-season. Braun batted .319 with 41 home runs (league best), 112 runs batted in, 108 runs, 36 doubles, three triples, and 30 stolen bases with a 6.8 wins above replacement. These numbers were incredibly similar to those of his 2011 MVP statistics. In his six years as a big leaguer, he has averaged a .313 batting average, 34 home runs, 107 RBIs, 21 stolen bases, a .374 OBP and a .568 slugging percentage.

Braun finished second in the MVP voting this past season with three first place, 15 second place, 10 third place and four fourth place votes. The 29-year-old does not intend to slow down as he is determined to get back on top of the baseball world. Another solid season on offense and defense plus a good year for the Brewers in which they clinch a postseason berth should give Braun the edge he needs to be the 2013 NL MVP.