By Taylor Weber, Last word on Baseball
Kris Bryant Deserves the MVP
With the season winding down, there is a lot of talk about who is going to take home the end of the year awards. There has been some buzz around who deserves the MVP trophy in National League. Some of the names being talked about for the award are Anthony Rizzo of the Chicago Cubs and Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves. Even rookie sensation Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers is getting a lot of looks. However, there seems to be just two players trying to slug their way to the hardware: Nolan Arenado of the Colorado Rockies and Kris Bryant of the Chicago Cubs. With that said, Kris Bryant deserves the MVP award.
This race seems to be down to the two young third basemen, but what about the others getting talked about? The first basemen, Freeman and Rizzo, are fourth and fifth in the NL in WAR among position players. Both are under the age of 28 and are key players in each of their team’s lineup. Unfortunately, even these superstar caliber players are getting outplayed.
Corey Seager is actually second in the NL in WAR among position players, and should be getting a little more consideration. The 22-year-old shortstop is hitting .319/.378./.539. He leads the league in hits with 174, and is playing good defense with a 0.6 defensive WAR. He is also a big reason the Dodgers have survived without Clayton Kershaw and still have the NL West lead. Seager’s offensive stats just aren’t what they need to be to get serious consideration for the award at this point.
Kris Bryant vs. Nolan Arenado
The real race is between third basemen Nolan Arenado and Kris Bryant. They are currently trading blows in the home run category, as every day the leader seems to change. Both are currently tied at 37, but with both playing on Sunday, either one of these guys could once again take the lead.
Arenado has more RBI, and has a major advantage in the defensive category. Arenado currently has a 2.3 defensive WAR, compared to Bryant’s 0.4. It would be a tough argument to make that Arenado isn’t the best defensive third baseman in the league. He has just nine errors in 427 chances. That comes out to a .979 fielding percentage.
However, Bryant leads Arenado in many offensive categories. He can also be found among the top names in the league in these stats. Bryant leads all NL players in WAR at 7.0. Max Scherzer is the next closest at 6.1, and the next closest position player is Seager at 6.0. Bryant is a complete win better than the next position player in the NL. He is among the top ten players in the league in the following categories: OBP, slugging, OPS, runs scored, home runs, runs created, times on base, and more advanced stats.
The Environmental Factor
The one thing that may set Bryant apart from Arenado even more is the environmental factor. Arenado plays in Colorado and has an advantage when it comes to offense in that playing condition. There are stats that can even this playing field out, though. OPS+ is a stat that is similar to the normal OPS but it takes into account a player’s ball park. Nolan Arenado’s OPS+ is 126. This is much lower than Bryant’s 156. This puts Bryant at number one in the NL and fourth overall, behind just Mike Trout (177), David Ortiz (161) and Jose Altuve (158).
When it’s all said and done, Kris Bryant is the superior offensive player. However, Nolan Arenado is the better defender. It seems to be the better hitter vs. the better fielder, and the better hitter should win every time. These players are without doubt superstars, but if history shows us anything, it’s that this league favors offense.