2013 MLB Preview: Top MVP Candidate From Each MLB Team
Top MVP Candidate From Each MLB Team For 2013
With less than a month until Opening Day, the excitement and anticipation for the start of the MLB season is increasing drastically. Discussions on everything from who will be crowned World Series Champions to which managers will get the early hook in 2013 have begun among baseball fanatics.
One of the hottest topics during Spring Training is who is the early favorite to win the Most Valuable Player Award in both the American and National League. Dating back to 1931, the MVP Award is the greatest individual achievement a MLB player can receive. Voted on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA), the MVP Award is always a highly debated decision.
There are two different trains of thought when it comes to who should win the MVP each year. There’s the newera of baseball thinkers and then there’s the old-school baseball advocates. Each have their own unique reasons on why a player is deserving of baseball’s top regular reason accolade. The new-era group values sabermetrics, placing certain statistics like WAR (Wins Above Replacement) and other advance metrics above everything else. The old-school defenders are much more traditional, picking a MVP that played on a postseason bound squad or someone who was able to tackle a triumph like winning the Triple Crown.
Whether you agree with the new or old style of determining each league’s MVP, we can all admit the MVP race is something to look forward to each summer. With optimism at its highest during Spring Training, all 30 MLB teams can argue right now that they have a legit MVP Award candidate in 2013. Some teams can even make the case of having two or three MVP caliber players. Realistically, each club has one guy who is deserving of preseason MVP chatter.
With that being said, here is a list of all 30 MLB teams' top MVP candidate for 2013.
Matt Malecha is a MLB writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @MattMalecha.
Arizona Diamondbacks- Aaron Hill 2B
Since joining the MLB in 1998, the Arizona Diamondbacks have never had a MVP Award winner. If 2013 is the year they finally get their first, it will most likely come from their second baseman Aaron Hill. Last year was his first full season in Arizona and he impressed, to say the least. Winning his second Silver Slugger Award, he hit a career high .302 AVG in 2012. If the NL MVP Award is heading to the Desert this year, he will be the one receiving it.
Atlanta Braves- Jason Heyward RF
Now that Chipper Jones has retired, the Atlanta Braves are in need of a new superstar. Only 23 years old, Jason Heyward has the opportunity to fill this role. He is a smooth swinging lefty with power to both sides of the field. If the young outfielder can turn some of his strikeouts into base hits, 2013 has the chance to be an MVP year for him.
Baltimore Orioles- Adam Jones CF
2012 was a very successful season for both Adam Jones and the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles made the playoffs for the first time since 1997 and Jones won his second Gold Glove and made the AL All-Star team. He is what baseball scouts call a five-tool player. There really isn't a whole lot he can't do on a baseball field. Although I don’t see the Orioles duplicating their success from last year, I do foresee him being a MVP candidate in 2013.
Boston Red Sox- Dustin Pedroia 2B
Since 1960, only one second baseman has won the AL MVP Award. His name? Dustin Pedroia. With a much different lineup in 2013, the Boston Red Sox will rely heavily on him to kick-start their offense. If the AL MVP Award is to be given out to a second baseman this season, chances are it’ll be him taking home the hardware.
Chicago Cubs- Starlin Castro SS
Starlin Castro is one of the few bright spots on the Chicago Cubs roster. The 22-year-old shortstop has become the face of the Cubs franchise. If he can avoid his embarrassing mental mistakes in 2013, he’s the Cubs best chance for an MVP Award winner.
Chicago White Sox- Paul Konerko 1B
Paul Konerko, 37, is the oldest MVP candidate on this list. However, age hasn't been able to slow down the Chicago White Sox first baseman. He was hitting an eye popping .399 in May last year before faltering in the later months of the season due to a wrist injury. With his wrist back to normal, he will look to prove that age isn’t everything and bring the AL MVP Award to the South Side.
Cincinnati Reds- Joey Votto 1B
Winner of the NL MVP Award in 2010, Joey Votto will look to capture his second MVP in 2013. He has future Hall of Famer written all over him. His career triple-slash line —.316/.415/.553— would impress Hank Aaron. Even if the Cincinnati Reds first baseman doesn’t win the MVP this year, I guarantee he’ll be awarded a few more MVPs before his playing days are over.
Cleveland Indians- Nick Swisher 1B
Originally from Ohio, playing for the Cleveland Indians in 2013 will be a homecoming for Nick Swisher. The switch-hitter will spend most of his time at first base for the Tribe this year. The Indians, who have scored the most runs in spring ball thus far, figure to have an explosive offense in 2013. He will have the opportunity to drive in a lot of runs for the Tribe, giving him an outside shot at being the first Indian to win the MVP since Al Rosen did it back in 1953.
Colorado Rockies- Carlos Gonzalez LF
Carlos Gonzalez is one of the most exciting players in the MLB. With speed, power and raw ability, the Colorado Rockies left fielder is one of the most well rounded outfielders in the National League. CarGo, as all of Colorado calls him, will be an excellent player on a below average team in 2013. If the NL MVP Award is to be given to a Rockie this year, CarGo is the leading recipient.
Detroit Tigers- Miguel Cabrera 3B
Frank Thomas, Roger Maris, Mickey Mantle, Yogi Berra, Hal Newhouser and Jimmie Foxx are the only players to win the AL MVP Award in back-to-back seasons. Detroit Tigers third baseman Miguel Cabrera will look to join this list in 2013. Not much has changed for him from a season ago. The big infielder can hit, but can’t field or run to save his life. That being said, if he is able to win the Triple Crown once again this season, it’ll almost be impossible to not give him the MVP.
Houston Astros- Jose Altuve 2B
In all honesty, the Houston Astros have a chance of losing well over 100 games this year. However, their 22-year-old second baseman Jose Altuve is a superstar in the making. In his first full MLB season last year, he was selected to the NL All-Star roster. The Astros may struggle enormously in 2013, but he will continue to prove himself as a legitimate MVP infielder in Houston.
Kansas City Royals- Billy Butler DH
A true designated hitter has never won the MVP Award. Not playing the field hampers their ability to take home the prestigious trophy. However, if there is one guy who can tackle the feat of being the first DH to win the MVP, it’s Billy Butler. The Kansas City Royals DH does exactly what he’s paid to do: hit. In 2012, he batted .313, with 29 HRs and 107 RBIs. The Royals lineup keeps improving, giving him an opportunity to be in the MVP race this year.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim- Albert Pujols 1B
Now in his second season in the American League, Albert Pujols looks to lead a dominant Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim offense. There are a few other guys on the Angels who have MVP hopes in 2013, but I feel like he is the front-runner in Anaheim. If he can avoid a sluggish start to the year, he has the chance to win his first MVP in the AL and his fourth overall.
Los Angeles Dodgers- Matt Kemp CF
Matt Kemp battled injuries throughout the first half of 2012, ruining what could have been an MVP type year. The Los Angeles Dodgers are expected to make a lot of noise in 2013 and he will be at the forefront of their offensive attack. Also a very skilled centerfielder, he is the Dodgers' top MVP Award hopeful.
Miami Marlins- Giancarlo Stanton RF
Mike or Giancarlo? Whatever he prefers to be called, Giancarlo Stanton is the real deal. The Miami Marlins right fielder already has 93 HRs in just 1,324 career at-bats. That means he is averaging a long ball every 14th at-bat. That's outstanding for someone who’s just 23 years old. Although his future with the Marlins is somewhat unknown, he is a MVP favorite down in South Beach.
Milwaukee Brewers- Ryan Braun LF
It seems as if distractions will surround Ryan Braun for the rest of his career. However, the Milwaukee Brewers left fielder had career highs in both HRs and RBIs last year, which leads me to believe the outside noise doesn't bother him. Playing in hitter-friendly Miller Park will only boost his power numbers in 2013, making him a front-runner for the MVP Award. Keep in mind though, many voters may choose to not vote for him due to the rumors involving him and PEDs.
Minnesota Twins- Joe Mauer C
Minnesota is one-for-one in 2013 regarding MVP Awards. Vikings running back Adrian Peterson took home the NFL MVP this winter. If Minnesota’s baseball club, the Twins, are to have an MVP in 2013, it will most likely be their catcher, Joe Mauer. Already an award winner back in 2009, he will be in pursuit of his second MVP. With Twins fans in store for another rough summer of baseball, he will gave Minnesota something to smile about this year.
New York Mets- David Wright 3B
Although the New York Mets had a tough 2012, David Wright did not. Hitting .306 and driving in 93 runs, he was an All-Star for the NL. The Mets will need that same production and then some if they want to compete in the NL East in 2013. He is the loan superstar left on the Mets, making him the easy choice for their MVP candidate.
New York Yankees- Robinson Cano 2B
The New York Yankees are beginning to look a lot different. Injuries, old age and PEDs are changing the landscape of the Yankees' roster. For Robinson Cano, this may mean even more success, however. The Yankees second baseman will be the meat of their lineup and will be given the chance to put up huge numbers. With a short porch in right at Yankees Stadium, he will produce MVP statistics in 2013.
Oakland Athletics- Yoenis Cespedes LF
The Oakland Athletics surprised the baseball world in 2012 by winning the AL West. A team full of no-namers, the A’s were not expected to compete last year. One of the A’s unknown players, Yoenis Cespedes, is bound to have a break out year in 2013. He has an “exploding bat”, meaning the ball literally jumps off his lumber. With unbelievable power, he is a dark horse to win the AL MVP this season.
Philadelphia Phillies- Cole Hamels P
The last time a pitcher won the NL MVP was back in 1968, when Bob Gibson took home the award. If there is one pitcher who can snap this steak, it’s Cole Hamels. Winning 17 games last year, he was brilliant for the Philadelphia Phillies. With a front-loaded staff, he will have to pitch great just to be considered the best hurler on his team this year. That being said, he can overpower any lineup when he’s on, which is why I think he’ll be a Cy Young and MVP candidate in 2013.
Pittsburgh Pirates- Andrew McCutchen CF
Whether he’s hitting, legging out a triple or chasing down a fly ball, Andrew McCuthen is a lot of fun to watch. The Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder was second in the NL hitting in 2012 with a .327 AVG. He also took home some hardware last year, winning a Gold Glove and a Silver Slugger Award. He will look to one-up his impressive 2012 campaign by capturing the NL MVP Award this season.
San Diego Padres- Chase Headley 3B
In my eyes, Chase Headley is the best MLB player who no one knows. Driving in 115 runs and hitting 31 dingers, he led the San Diego Padres offense in 2012. 31 HRs is quite a few for a guy who has to play half the year at Petco Park. The Padres and Headley will both have a strong 2013 and may provide San Diego with playoff baseball and a MVP Award.
San Francisco Giants- Pablo Sandoval 3B
I may be out of my mind not picking Buster Posey, who won the 2012 NL MVP, as the San Francisco Giants top MVP candidate. But as we all know, repeating as the MVP is extremely difficult. So, instead I went with a guy who finished 2012 as hot as anyone. Pablo Sandoval, who was named the 2012 World Series MVP, had a monster postseason. With a triple-slash line of .364/.386/.712 in the playoffs last year, it would be a massive understatement to say he was a main reason why the Giants won the World Series. If he can pick up from where he left off in October last season, he will be in the running for the NL MVP in 2013.
Seattle Mariners- Felix Hernandez P
Felix Hernandez signed a contract this offseason that may have an impact on how MLB pitchers are paid for years to come. With a career 3.22 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, King Felix is worth every penny of his seven-year, $175 million deal. He is truly loved in Seattle. Each time he pitches at Safeco Field, a group of fans, similar to a college basketball fan section, show up to cheer for him. With one of the better home field advantages when he’s on the mound, King Felix will be one of the few bright spots on a subpar Seattle Mariners team in 2013.
St. Louis Cardinals- David Freese 3B
With a now full-time spot on the St. Louis Cardinals roster, David Freese is starting to shine. The third baseman is set to become the next superstar in St. Louis. He will have a MVP type of year in 2013, making Cardinals fans a little less bitter about missing Pujols.
Tampa Bay Rays- Evan Longoria 3B
Evan Longoria is starting to become hard to watch. His play has nothing to do with the fact that I find myself worrying every time I see him on the field. Seeming to always catch the injury bug, the Tampa Bay Rays third baseman has had the hardest time playing a full season. Hopefully for the Rays and Longoria, 2013 will be different. If healthy this year, expect him to be an MVP caliber player.
Texas Rangers- Elvis Andrus SS
With a tattoo that kept him out of a game this spring, much has been made about Elvis Andrus being shipped out by the Texas Rangers this summer. I, however, am not buying it. He is a very valuable asset to the Rangers squad. With runners in scoring position in 2012, he hit an incredible .350. Clutch hitting is hard to find, which is why I believe the Rangers will hold on to their shortstop. With a depleted lineup, he is the Rangers' best chance for a MVP Award winner in 2013.
Toronto Blue Jays- Jose Bautista RF
The Toronto Blue Jays made the most noise this offseason. Bringing in a boatload of talent, the Blue Jays are playoff contenders in 2013. Jose Bautista, who hurt his wrist last year, is back to his old self it appears this spring. I predict the Blue Jays right fielder will put up 50 plus dingers and 125 RBIs this year. With some added protection around him in the Jays lineup, he is a top three pick to win the AL MVP in 2013.
Washington Nationals- Stephen Strasburg P
Stephen Strasburg had a very bizarre finish to his 2012 season. After dominating the National League for the first five months, Strasburg was shut down for not only his last few starts, but for the postseason as well. There is no arguing that he is one of the best young arms in baseball. Instead of letting his late season shutdown affect his play negatively, I believe he will use it as motivation and be even better in 2013. A no doubt Cy Young candidate to start this year, I also foresee the Washington Nationals' young hurler competing for the NL MVP Award.