While it’s not time to declare a winner in the annual MLB award races, it is time to start narrowing down the lists. We have under one month of regular season baseball left to play, and that means that playoff and award races are going to be the talk of the baseball world.
In the National League, the conversation of who’s going to win the MVP award usually involves Pittsburgh Pirates’ Andrew McCutchen, Los Angeles Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw, Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto and New York Mets’ David Wright. One name that is being left off of everyone’s list is the Washington Nationals’ Jayson Werth.
On the season, Werth has a slash line of .320/.396/.523 with 21 home runs, 66 RBIs and 15 doubles. Compare those numbers with McCutchen, Votto and Wright — it’s difficult to compare a hitter and pitcher — and you can see that Werth, while having missed nearly the entire month of May, is right in line with those players.
This season, McCutchen has batted .320 with 19 home runs and 76 RBIs, Votto has hit .301 with 21 home runs and 64 RBIs, and Wright has batted .309 with 16 home runs and 54 RBIs. Werth has hit more home runs than McCutchen and Wright, and has more RBI than Wright and Votto.
Let’s break down Werth’s year a little bit more. (Note: Wright is currently on the 15-day disabled list due to a hamstring injury)
The month of July was a good one for Werth. He had a slash line of .367/.450/.622 and hit seven home runs with 22 RBIs. Don’t think that he got hot for just a month, either. The way he backed up his July performance throughout August proved that it was no fluke.
Through the month of August, Werth had arguably his best stat-line since joining the Nationals back in 2011. He batted .380 with six home runs, 21 RBIs and four doubles. He also had an on-base percentage of .468 and a slugging percentage of .620. Where does that rank among the rest of the National League?
When compared to the rest of the NL hitters for the month of August (minimum of 75 at-bats), Werth ranked third in batting average, third in on-base percentage, tied for fourth in home runs, tied for second in RBI and was seventh in slugging percentage. Based on the month of August alone, the guy should be considered in the top-five for the NL MVP award, no?
There are a couple of things fighting against him. The first is his hamstring injury that caused him to miss the month of May. The second is the fact that the Nationals are an underachieving team this year. If they were in the thick of the playoff chase and garnering national sports television attention every night, Werth would be higher up on peoples’ lists.
It’s important to note that this was merely one aspect of the MVP award: statistics. To be the most valuable player in the league, a players has to prove to the voters that if they weren’t on their team, said team wouldn’t be better off. There are many factors other than stats that go into deciding who will win the MVP award. However, statistics are an indicator of players that are deserving of consideration.
If you’re looking for a dark horse to win the MVP award, look no further than Jayson Werth. If September goes anything like July and August, he’ll be in the thick of the MVP award race by month’s end.