Friday, April 19, 2013

National League MVP Predictions (4/21)

1. Bryce Harper

Harper has not disappointed to start off the 2013 season. After finishing with 13 HR in the final two months of last season, he has picked up right where he left off, connecting on 5 HR through his first 14 games. With a full slate of games on tap for 2013, I see Harper vastly improving in every major hitting category. Another factor that works in Harper's favor is his charisma both on and off the field. He always puts forth tremendous effort, and is a clear leader in the clubhouse. That in and of itself is an extraordinary accomplishment. For a player to come into the league and command the respect of coaches and veterans alike in his rookie season the way Harper did, is almost unheard of. One factor that will play largely into whether he ultimately wins the award is whether the Nationals can duplicate their success from a season ago.

      2013 Projections:   .300 average, 38 HR, 105 RBI, 110 Runs, 18 SB

2. Justin Upton

There's no player in the game on a hotter streak than Upton right now. Upton has 8 HR through his teams first 14 games, and has the Braves sitting at an MLB best 12-2. Upton has flashed MVP ability before in his career, but has dealt with inconsistent play at times. This will be the season he breaks out as a true superstar. The scariest part about the start to Upton's season is that while he has been on fire, Jason Heyward and Upton's older brother B.J. have been slumping. Just imagine the numbers younger Upton can put up once the offense truly catches fire. If Upton can stay consistent and keep the Braves atop the N.L. East, there's no reason to believe he can't win this award.

      2013 Projections:   .290 average, 34 HR, 100 RBI, 110 Runs, 20 SB

3. Clayton Kershaw

Over the last three seasons, there has been no better pitcher in the MLB than Kershaw (other than possibly Justin Verlander). If Verlander can pull off an MVP award like he did in 2011, then why not Kershaw? Kershaw hasn't seen the consistently high win totals in his career, thanks to a less than great Dodgers team in the past. The 2013 Dodgers are a different story though. Their lineup includes the likes of Matt Kemp, Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Andre Ethier. Easily the best offensive talent Kerhsaw has had at his disposal at any point in his career. I expect the added offensive talent to add to Kershaws win total, with him possibly reaching the 21 wins he put up in 2011.

      2013 Projections:   20-6 record, 235 IP, 250 K, 60 BB, 2.25 ERA, 1.02 WHIP

Dark Horse Pick:  Madison Bumgarner

Call me crazy for saying this, but I believe Bumgarner can match Kershaw in nearly every major category this season. I see Kershaw winning out in terms of strikeouts, but Bumgarner making up for it with a league leading 22 wins. The only thing that could hold Bumgarner back is that his offense doesn't have the potential to quite as explosive as the lineup Kershaw is gifted with. The giants are however a scrappy team with last years MVP winner Posey leading the way, so anything is possible.

      2013 Projections:   22-5 record, 230 IP, 230 K, 55 BB, 2.35 ERA, 1.05 WHIP