We made it! The final division! My deepest apologies to fans of NL West teams, waiting to see which players made the cut but better late than never right?
If you are a fan of the Rockies or Padres, you haven’t seen a player on your team win the MVP award since 1997.
Diamondbacks fans of course, would consider you exceptionally lucky, with no player from Arizona scooping the gong in the team’s history.
Interestingly (or not), the West hasn’t seen a 100 game winner since 2003 (if you guessed Giants, give yourself a pat on the back) and this year looks set to be one of the more competitive divisions in baseball once again.
We’re not here to talk teams though, we’re here to talk superstar players. Which heavy hitters on the Pacific coast have the best shot at the MVP award this year?
San Diego Padres – Wil Myers
(I know that’s from his Rays days but I just love that bat flip)
The Padres had exactly one hitter on their team last year who reached the qualifying threshold for at-bats which tells you everything you need to know about their post-season prospects.
Playing at first base, Myers quietly but assuredly rebuilt his former top-prospect value in 2016, compiling 3.8 wins and taking his place at the heart of the young line-up.
The .259/.336/.461 line is nothing to write home about at first base, but he was one just three players at any position to hit 25 home runs and steal 25 bases and he came two of each short of putting up the only 30/30 season.
He’s been a consistent performer with the bat for some time now, so it’s hard to imagine a leap forward, but some batted ball luck, another 25 steal season and Myers might find a way to sneak into discussions.
Arizona Diamondbacks – Paul Goldschmidt
Cursed with playing for a terrible team for almost his entire major league career to date, Goldschmidt has nonetheless been a sensational baseball player for the duration too.
A career high 32 steals in 2016 were the most for a first baseman since Gregg Jefferies stole 46 for the Cardinals back in 1993 although more balls on the ground saw him post his lowest slugging percentage since 2011.
Goldy has a pristine profile at the plate, with hard contact to all fields and if he can get more balls in the air in 2017 we could be looking at a genuine 30/30 contender with the traditional MVP stats (AVG, R, RBI) to boot.
San Francisco Giants – Buster Posey
(How awesome was that home run?)
I really, really wanted to make an argument for Brandon Crawford here, because he just put up 5.8 wins above replacement (5.8!) but I’m going with Gerald Posey.
A former MVP winner himself of course, Posey has seen his power decline in the past few seasons, hitting a career-low 14 in 2016.
However, the contact skills remain elite, and his peripheral numbers (hard hit rate, exit velocity) actually improved with regards to power so we could see a little rebound in the bat.
Then, there’s the glove. His 241 strikes above average in 2016 were easily best in the big leagues, his 92.1% block rate was second in the Majors behind platoon guy Chirinos whilst he ranked number one in the Majors at bunt defense.
There are few catchers on earth who are that good defensively. There are few catchers in history who are that good defensively with the bat to go with it.
Colorado Rockies – Nolan Arenado
As a prospect, Arenado was panned for a perceived laziness in the minor leagues. As a Major Leaguer, Arenado’s career trajectory is testament to how much work he has done to turn that narrative around.
The list of players with back-to-back 40 bomb seasons these past two years? Nelson Cruz and Nolan Arenado. In 2016, he also doubled his walk rate, shaved another tick off his already low strikeout rate and was one of just nine guys to play over 160 games.
And then there’s the glove. It may seem like Rockies fans exaggerate about the quality of Arenado’s defense (and they probably do) but one five-minute peruse of youtube and you would be left in no two minds that he could give Machado a run for his money.
In 2016, Arenado entered the national spotlight. In 2017, he wins MVP. Hopefully.
Los Angeles Dodgers – Corey Seager
Four players in MLB history have gone from rookie-of-the-year to MVP in consecutive seasons. Quick, name them! Yep, there’s Kris Bryant. Then Ryan Howard, Dustin Pedroia and Cal Ripken Jr. Hell of a list.
Seager will be bidding to become the fifth in 2017, and after coming third in MVP voting last year you’d say he has as good a shot as any player.
He led all Major League shortstops in wins above replacement in 2016, coming in front of names like Lindor, Correa and even Machado.
With 30 homer power, a surprisingly solid defensive profile and plenty of line drive contact that should keep the BABIP high, Seager is already an MVP calibre player and at the age of 22 could realistically continue to improve. Yikes!