Nationals right fielder Bryce Harper and Blue Jays third baseman Josh Donaldson were named the most valuable players in their respective leagues, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced today. Harper was the unanimous choice for first place among the 30 who voted, whereas Donaldson took home 23 of the 30 first-place votes. Ballots for MVP voting go 10 deep and are based on a scale that awards 14 points for a first-place vote and then nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two and one respectively down the list.
Paul Goldschmidt was the runaway choice for second place, collecting 18 second-place votes and 234 points. Joey Votto, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew McCutchen, Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke each received second-place votes and finished third through seventh, in that order. Rounding out the remainder of the ballot were (in order) Nolan Arenado, Buster Posey, Clayton Kershaw, Kris Bryant, Matt Carpenter, Yoenis Cespedes, A.J. Pollock, Jason Heyward, Dee Gordon, Trevor Rosenthal, Curtis Granderson, Gerrit Cole and Adrian Gonzalez. (Full voting breakdown here.)
That Harper won shouldn’t come as a surprise, as he was widely believed to be the favorite for the award on the heels of a historically great age-22 season. (Winning in unanimous fashion is perhaps a mild surprise, as there are still voters who prefer their MVPs to come from playoff clubs.) The former No. 1 overall draft pick batted .330/.460/.649 and led the National League in on-base percentage, slugging percentage, home runs (42) and runs scored (118). Harper was consistent throughout the season, never posting a monthly OPS lower than .909, and his all-around contributions were valued at 9.9 wins above replacement by Baseball-Reference.com and 9.5 WAR by Fangraphs.
Shifting to the American League, Mike Trout unsurprisingly finished runner-up and received all seven of the other first-place votes that did not go to Donaldson. The top two finishers combined to receive all but one of the first- and second-place votes, with Nelson Cruz receiving one second-place vote. Donaldson’s final point total was 385, with Trout coming in at 304. Rounding out the top 20 (in order): Lorenzo Cain, Manny Machado, Dallas Keuchel, Cruz, Adrian Beltre, Jose Bautista, David Price, Jose Altuve, Miguel Cabrera, Edwin Encarnacion, Prince Fielder, Chris Davis, J.D. Martinez, Jason Kipnis, Kevin Kiermaier, Kendrys Morales, Chris Sale and Mookie Betts. (Full voting breakdown here.)
Donaldson’s first season with the Blue Jays was everything Toronto could’ve hoped for and then some when trading Brett Lawrie and three prospects for him last offseason. The 29-year-old batted .297/.371/.568 and blasted 41 homers, leading the American League in both runs scored (122) and RBIs (123). In addition to his outstanding offensive contributions, Donaldson ranked among the game’s elite at third base, saving 11 runs above the average defender, by measure of Defensive Runs Saved and nine runs above average per Ultimate Zone Rating. B-Ref (8.8) and Fangraphs (8.7) were more or less in agreement on Donaldson’s value in terms of wins above replacement.