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.
Donaldson was a fine choice this year, in my opinion, so it’s not like the ripoffs that happened in 2012/2013, but just consider how Mike Trout could justifiably be a four-straight MVP winner right now if we went strictly by fWAR.
He will probably finish 1st or 2nd in MVP voting for many more years.
What’s funny (not for him, though) is that his MVP-winning season was his worst season by a decent margin.
Trout didn’t get ripped off. Miguel Cabrera was deservingly MVP both years
Agreed……Cabrera won the triple crown one year and nearly won it the second time. He’s the best hitter of this generation. He’s putting up Ted Williams type of numbers.
But why would anyone go strictly by fWAR? It’s a nice stat, but let’s not act like it’s a flawless, inarguable measure of the worth of a player’s performance. Just because someone came up with that formula doesn’t make it baseball canon that everyone must adhere to when they judge players.
Some guy named Chris Assenheimer voted Cruz 2nd and Trout 3rd. Also gave votes to Brantley and Abreu.
what an appropriate name. Trout should have won and someone puts him 3rd?
I hate when these voters basically abuse their power both in these situations and in Hall of Fame voting.
This voting is based on who is the best in each league and to put Trout behind Cruz is absolutely abhorrent.
The whole notion of “well I better put this guy on my ballot because he isn’t going to win” is disgusting.
You vote for who is the best and most deserving, you don’t vote based on what you think other’s will do.
It should be as simple as who is the best, but this Asshatheimer guy, if real, really is doing all of baseball a disservice.
There’s always one, isn’t there? Pretty disturbing how someone with a vote that matters can get it so twisted. Like don’t get me wrong Cruz was wonderful this year, but if you don’t have Donaldson and Trout as 1 and 2 or 2 and 1, you’re wrong. The rest of the ballots indicate this pretty clearly.
Both guys were definitely deserving of the award, but no matter what Harper may accomplish in his career he will never be liked or accepted as much as guys like a Trout or a Goldschmidt or really anybody who is able to show some sense of humility.
Harper was definitely deserving don’t get me wrong that’s not what I’m saying, but unless his attitude changes, which is highly unlikely because that is just the person he is, he won’t ever get the same love from fans, outside National fans, and players like Trout or Bryant or Correa (I mention these guys because they are in the general same age range and will be playing with one another for many years to come).
Fans are still holding onto what he did when he was 19 years old.
Anyone that doesn’t want to sit back and watch history because they think they know Bryce Harper is really missing something special.
Oh I’m not arguing what he is doing isn’t special, because it is, I’m just saying the way he is perceived by others.
There’s nothing he can do to change that. People had their mind made up on him when he was 18 years old. Their loss, not his.
Not necessarily. I do agree a lot have had their minds made up since he came into the league, but he can change others through his on field actions next year or two. He’s not an off the field issue which makes that a lot easier. Just my opinion of course.
When a guy’s that good, and plays with that much passion, he’s bound to act like an idiot every now and then. I have no problem with it as long as he’s not actually hurting anybody.
The only problem I have, is he’s not on my favorite team!
His attitude? I’m an insanely huge Nats fan and the only problems he’s ever had with his attitude was when he said span should be benched, which they made up and really wasn’t a big deal. I don’t like that perception of him. It’s unfair.
what happened to the MVP candidate must come from a playoff team? I can’t take away anything from Harper’s performance this year but he didn’t carry his team to the playoffs. just sayin’
Nowhere in the voting does it say such a thing
Heck in 2003, A-Rod was the AL MVP for the last place Texas Rangers.
Another one of MLB’s unwritten rules….
BBWAA rules. Not MLB.
BBW’s are a bunch of college grads who are given too much credit/power just because they cover the sport. Heck, listening to Tom Verducci give his opinion on the MLB channel causes me to turn down the volume.
If you want to go off the theory that the MVP must be on a playoff team, that means Anthony Rizzo would be the MVP (following the order listed above). Only a fool would say that Rizzo should’ve won the MVP.
Hell it bothers me that anyone even gave Rizzo a top 3. There were 6 clear choices in my head ahead of him. 1 of which was on his own team. Harper, Goldschmidt, Votto, Arrieta, Kershaw, Greinke.
How valuable can you be if your team doesn’t make the playoffs? They missed the playoffs with him. They would’ve missed the playoffs without him…Winning is the goal. Making the playoffs is the reward for winning. That’s how you measure value.
That’s just old, faulty thinking. Because player A has a better team around him than player B doesn’t make player A’s performance better. In fact, it’s not only faulty, it’s also backwards, because if you want to use “valuable” like that, then arguably a player is more valuable to a weaker team than a stronger one, because his contribution is much more vital to their performance. Who is more valuable to his team, a 9-WAR player on an 80-WAR team, or a 9-WAR player on a 100-WAR team?
Yeah, Harper kept a beat up, flawed, underperforming team relevant into September almost single handedly (with a tip o’ the cap to Scherzer). The fact that the Nationals were in the playoff conversation until the last couple of weeks was thanks to him.
ernie banks won back-to-back MVP’s for a cubs team that finished near last.
That’s probably just a minor buff for the choice.
If Bryce Harper didn’t do his part in helping a team win, no one in baseball since Bonds has.
Well, a team never wins unless a play or players contributes. Even a last place team has a player who contributes more. I never said Harper wasn’t good enough but many a pundit has said the winner should come from a playoff contending team. The Nationals weren’t this year.
That started going away about the time they stopped evaluating pitchers on W-L records. It was a terrible idea and they finally realized it. Better late than never.
Harper not only was the best player, and his team was in contention until the last week or so.
I am a huge fan of Harper, but if I had a vote, it would go to Arrieta 1st and Cespedes 2nd.
The Cubs and Mets neither one would have made the playoffs if not for those two.
Wow. Sorry to be so rude but is that serious?
Yeah, he’s serious. His logic is kinda screwy, but he’s serious.
Fun fact: Cespedes’s six week “MVP run” with the Mets was truly impressive – a .287/.337/.604/.942 slash with an OPS+ of 157. Harper was better than that not just for the season, but all season. Harper only had one month where his OPS was below Cespedes’s six week run with the Mets – and Harper’s .909 OPS in August was closer to Cespedes’s .942 with the Mets than Cespedes was to Harper’s split in either the first (1.168) or second (1.043) half of the season.
Harper clearly had a better season than Cespedes and everyone else. The Nationals did not make the playoffs though and the Mets did. If the Mets hadn’t acquired Cespedes it is very likely they would not have made the playoffs in which case The Nationals would have.
Also, if Arrieta had not been historically great in the 2nd half the Cubs might not have made it.
Best and Most Valuable are not necessarily the same
There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means. It is up to the individual voter to decide who was the Most Valuable Player in each league to his team. The MVP need not come from a division winner or other playoff qualifier.
The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the first ballot in 1931:
1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
2. Number of games played.
3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
4. Former winners are eligible.
5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.
It’s obvious that the voters haven’t really followed this in recent years since Rule #1 (the latter part) and Rule #2 pretty much disqualify pitchers from winning. Terrible to no offense and only 30-70 games played.
Everyone loves to blow up the “MVP can only be on a contender” argument. I think it’s fine to choose the guy who’s play actually made a difference to his team if it’s close.
Should’ve gone to Matt Duffy.
We’ll see who has the better career, just wait.
I wonder if this will set a record for most downvotes.
are you referring to the pinch hitter from Houston?
Are you stupid or just a troll?
Reference the MLBTR article announcing the rookie of the year winners
You mean the BBWA managed to give a NL award to someone that is not part of the Cubs? The idiots that voted for Kris Bryant should have their votes taken away. Things like that annoy the above average baseball fan.
Duffy > Bryant
Collins > Maddon
Greinke > Arrieta
1 – No
2 – No
3 – I agree but that’s debatable
Going by the rewards alone Maddon had more to work with than Collins, I feel manager of the year was the reward they got wrong in both leagues.
Collins had a team with 4 front line starters that pitched in MLB’s worst division by far whereas Maddon took a team from 73 wins and last place to 97 wins and the 3rd best record in baseball, with the 2 teams ahead finishing 1-2 in best record
He also had at one point the leagues worst offense don’t cherry pick things. Maddon had the Cy Young winner and a 160 million dollar pitcher the Cubs rotation wasn’t exactly garbage. Funny how no one picked the Mets to win the MLB’s worst division either that would have been the nationals with the “best rotation ever”
As I said, check the divisions though. I may have cherry picked with the SP but the Full Season Standings tell it all.
We will have to just agree to disagree, IMO the managers of the year were Molitor and Collins, I don’t think you can punish Collins for the Nationals and Marlins collapse though. Using the criteria you are using though Matheny would be the manager of the year would he not, his team actually won the toughest division in baseball and had a lot of injuries to deal with.
Why not Hinch? Molitor has a strong argument in that he took a terrible team and made them competitive up until the final days. However Hinch took a bad team and made them into a playoff team. The Astro’s probably have the better team but either way my point is that both had teams that weren’t expected to be contenders but Hinch actually got his team to the playoffs.
I thought it would go to Hinch also.
Well Matheny did finish 2nd actually.
I usually am a fan of giving it to a manager whose team surprised everyone. Nobody predicted the Cubs to make the playoffs. Some people, at least in the NY area, said the Mets have a shot at the wild card.
It’s obvious that both teams exceded expectations. I just think Maddon had way more competition. Yes you can’t fault Collins, but you still gotta give all credit to Maddon, whose team did worse last year (though under a different manager of course) to one of the best this year
The Mets went from 79 wins to 90 wins
The Cubs went from 73 wins to 97 wins
Excluding the playoffs, I don’t think anyone would say the Mets were better than the Cubs.
BTW The Cubs actually had a lower ERA than the Mets on the year.
Which says alot about Maddon’s managing of his pitchers. Maddon had two starters and a bunch of scrubs. Collins had 4 frontline starters.
I agree with Niekro’s first point in that for all the narrative about how Joe Maddon deserves so much credit for his third place finish (yes, in the toughest division), he also had the NL ROY, the NL CY and places 4, 6 and 11 in the NL MVP voting. It’s not like the Cubs came out of nowhere. People have been expecting this and it all came together. However, I feel this further shows why Matheny should have won the award. Cardinals players got token votes during award season because their main stars were all injured. Meanwhile, the team that Matheny led (Matt Williams helps prove the manager does have influence on things like cohesion) overcame the death of a teammate and a multitude of injuries to have the best record in baseball. How is that not manager of the year in the bag? That’s all.
That’s a lot of good points. It just shows that the manager of the team that most overperforms preseason expectations wins the Manager of the Year. The Cards exactly met preseason expectations, and I guess the voters didn’t factor in how it happened.
if you look at the STL players…it’s amazing they won 100 games with the injuries they suffered.
I agree that Matheny should’ve gotten more love and I’ll agree that it helps that Maddon had the ROY, Cy Young and MVP candidates but are we really going to discredit him because his team lived up to their potential? The manager helps mesh all those pieces together to make them good. Matt Williams had arguably the best team on paper yet, as you inferred, couldn’t put it all together. While it does suck a bit, a manager on a new team (whether it be a rookie one or veteran) that exceeds expectations will usually get the vote over the consistently good manager on the consistently good team.
I actually think Epstein or his GM should get executive of the year more than Maddon should get MOY for what the Cubs did.
Has that been announced yet? (Executive of the Year)
I wouldn’t have had a problem with Hinch either Molitor might have even had more help than him in the veteran department, I think Hunter and Molitor just both brought a different attitude to the twins, both teams had young talent come up and contribute too.
Collins had a team with 2 front line starters. The same way the Cubs had Arrieta and Lester. If you’re saying you knew Syndagard and Matz we’re going to pitch the way they did, you’re lying. They also had half the offense. They were second to last in runs scored until they picked up Cespedes.
Syndengaurd and Matz were highly rated prospects. Their effective pitching should come to no surprise to anyone.
“Collins had a team with 4 front line starters”
That’s not true at all. He only had deGrom and Harvey the whole year. Syndergaard didn’t debut until May and made only 24 starts. Matz made only six (!) starts. Unless you’re referring to Colon or Niese, or Logan Verrett?
Say what you will about Collins, but the team remained over .500 even when they had the worst offense in the NL (possibly in all of baseball, I can’t remember), and despite Wright missing nearly the entire season and d’Arnaud playing only 67 games.
Lol. “Only” 24 starts? Thats about 2/3rd the season.
The fact still remains, the NL East was by far the worst division in baseball (66 games under .500). The Mets with that record finish 4th in NL Central and miss the playoffs. The Cubs had to battle 2 teams all year round. The Mets ran away with the division in August/September thanks to a combo of good baseball and terrible ball by Washington
Maddon had a much more challenging task. And the voters obviously agree with that.
Yes. ‘Only’ 24 starts. Also, 2/3 of the 162 game schedule is only 107 games. It’s significant. And, again, Matz only had six starts, which is a point that you’re breezing past but still weirdly penalizing Collins for. Between two of the ‘front line starters’ you’re penalizing Collins for having, that’s only 30 starts, which is less than either of Lester or Arrieta.
I’ll say it again, but Wright and d’Arnaud missed huge chunks of the season, the Mets lost their closer (Mejia) very early on, didn’t have Wheeler, Murphy and Duda missed ~30 game apiece, and dealt with innings restrictions (and many media circuses) with both deGrom and Harvey. But they still were never more than a game under .500.
For the record, I wouldn’t have voted for Collins for Manager of the Year, but you’re not making a lot of sense in saying that Maddon had a tougher task. The Cubs had zero significant injuries.
Hey at least we all are making fair arguments. You or someone else pointed out Noah and Matz were rookies. Very true. Though let’s not forget the Cubs had several rookies of their own. Fortunately for both teams, a majority of them helped out
I’m not penalizing Collins for anything by the way. He did a fine job. I just think personally Maddon had a tougher task due to him taking over a last place team and then finishing with the 3rd best record. That, and the fact that the NL Central was dominant and the NL East was garbage.
You can agree to disagree and I respect that. Strong arguments have been made for both of them.
I don’t feel they got it wrong. After the NL Cy Young, MOY might’ve been the hardest decision. Whereas the other awards had relatively two guys to decide between (and in some scenarios it was a blowout). For both leagues you could make an argument for each manager that were the “frontrunners”
Duffy could have the better career but please tell me why he should’ve won the ROY. Literally the only notable stats that he did better than Bryant was he had less K’s and a better AVG, but the better AVG is offset by the fact that Bryant’s OBP was better.
I’ll give you Greinke > Arrieta but that’s debatable and you could easily make the argument for both Collins and Maddon. Collins helped the Mets exceed expectations (although thanks in large part to a Nats meltdown) but Maddon took a younger, arguably more inexperienced team to the third best record in the majors behind the Cards and Pirates (who just so happen to be in their division).
1 – because for the 2 offensive categories you can praise Duffy for, Bryant beat him in 10 or12. Bryant’s defense also wasn’t that far behind Duffy’s.
2 – Arrieta pitched only once every 5 days and Bryant can only hit once in the line-up. the Cubs won 97 games as a team with and average of 3 other rookies in the starting line-up, a bullpen cobbled together of major league cast-offs and 2nd and 3rd year pitchers, and a rotation who’s back end was Jason Hammel, Kyle Hendricks and a revolving cast of guys you’ve never heard of and Dan Haren
3 – yeah, maybe. personally i’d have given in to Kershaw, but all three guys had a legit case for the award
It makes me sad that you hold the same voting power as me…
Trout and Harper are the first under-aged 25 players since Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle to post a 9 WAR in the same season.
ya we are all luck you to be catching these guys with our own eyes
Not sure what’s worse. Trevor Rosenthal getting a 6th place vote or Cruz ahead of Trout.
Why punish Trout because you know he is good but think another person should win the award. Good thing MVP is a regular-season award, because Donaldson wasn’t clutch in the postseason.
Nice to see Joey Votto getting the respect he deserves as one of the best pure hitters in the game, despite the god-awful team around him.
Agreed. What’s most amazing to me, though, is that two people left him off the ballot entirely.
I appreciate all these intricacies of the voting that everyone is pointing out, but they also make me irrationally angry deep down. Cruz ahead of Trout, Rosenthal getting a 6th place (not that that one really matters), Kershaw getting a 4th AND a 5th, Votto not even making two ballots. I’m genuinely not sure what goes through some of these voters’ heads.
trade Votto to the Padres for Alonso, Norris & a prospect with SD paying all the salary?
I really doubt the Reds move Votto. Yes his contract is gargantuan, but he’s going to be an MVP caliber player for at least a couple more years. Even with the plan being 2017 or 2018, Votto will still be producing
you see the paycheck Votto gets? I think he gets a LOT of respect. 🙂
It’s fascinating to me that Clayton Kershaw, somehow, was more valuable to the Dodgers in 2014 and wins an MVP, and yet Jake Arrieta, who probably had the best second half of any pitcher in modern baseball history, is an afterthought to Bryce Harper.
2 different seasons though. If Harper’s stats this year we’re like last year, he’s probably MVP over Kershaw.
no one remembers who finished second or third in the voting for the big awards. Does anyone care who finished 2nd to OJ in 1968 for the Heisman? (to save you time…it was Leroy Keyes from Purdue)
Good thing that Donaldson got his MVP this year, because I think Astros SS Correa is going to win about 7 of the next 10 of them. Trout and Donaldson can haggle for the other 3.
AL: 1) Josh Donaldson, 2) Mike Trout, 3) Nelson Cruz, 4) Manny Machado
NL: 1) Nolan Arenado, 2) Bryce Harper, 3) Paul Goldschmidt, 4) Yoenis Cespedis
Arenado is a wonderful ballplayer – but don’t be confused by the “Coors Field Effect.” Factoring in ballparks, Harper’s OPS+ is 195, his wRC+ is 197. Arenado’s OPS+ was 124, his wRC+ 119. Even giving Arenado a bonus for defense (and Harper was good defensively, but Arenado was great), it’s not close.
Arenado had a very good year. But keep in mind he hit nearly 50 points higher and drove in nearly 20 more runs at Coors than on the road. Oddly, he hit two more HR’s on the road than at home. But the Coors effect is at work here as it is with most successful Rockies hitters. The writers know about this and it will probably keep Todd Helton out of cooperstown.
MVP always confused with Player of the Year. I’ve always said the Rangers would have finished in the exact same place in the standings with me at shortstop rather than MVP ARod.
Trout “UNSURPRISINGLY finished runner up”? Steve, wth are you talking about. Trout had a better batting average, a better slg, a better OBP, a better OPS, a better OPS+, a better WAR, a better wRC, a better wOBA, a better BB%, a better ISO, and more stolen bases, and hit the same number of home runs. He actually drove in a larger percentage of base runners in scoring position. So you are trying to say that because Donaldson played on a team that had 76 more baserunners while Donaldson was at bat and other batters on the Jays hit .23 points higher while Donaldson was on base than the Angels did while Trout was on base that Donaldson “obviously” deserved the MVP award? That makes little sense to me. I think both players had outstanding seasons and it was a close call, but Trout was clearly the better player.
Try this on: how about “unsurprising” in the sense that, given that Donaldson won the award, Trout was the obvious and deserving runner up?
Bryce is a Beast, too bad Donaldson & the Bluejays couldn’t finish. But what an amazing year by a 3rd baseman.
Any chance Votto or Chris Davis end up in San Diego?
If (when) the Diamondbacks get to postseason in upcoming years and Goldschmidt has a similar season, I would like to see the excuse for not giving him the MVP award.