by Julian Spivey
For the majority of the season there wasn't a clear front runner for National League Most Valuable Player, but that pretty much changed over the last month of the season with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich powering his team to the N.L. Central Division title.
While Yelich is pretty much a shoo-in at this point for N.L. MVP this is how my top five would look if I had an MVP vote …
5. Jacob deGrom (New York Mets)
Jacob deGrom had one of the most dominant seasons of any pitcher in baseball history, though you wouldn’t really know it simply by looking at his won/loss record of 10-9. But, in today’s game of matchups the win/loss doesn’t mean as much as it once did. deGrom’s 1.70 earned run average is the lowest since Zack Greinke’s 1.66 ERA for the Dodgers in 2015 and the second lowest in more than two decades. He should be a lock for N.L. Cy Young with his 269 strikeouts (second to Max Scherzer) added in.
4. Javier Baez (Chicago Cubs)
Chicago Cubs middle infielder Javier Baez might be the most exciting player in all of baseball to watch play the game, especially defensively, but he became the all-around superstar the Cubs had hoped for this season with 34 homers, a league leading 111 RBI, a .291 batting average and a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of 6.3 (third in the league).
3. Freddie Freeman (Atlanta Braves)
The biggest surprise in the National League this year was the N.L. East Division winning Atlanta Braves. The Braves had a handful of guys step up this year who could potentially garner MVP votes like rookie Ronald Acuna Jr. and Nick Markakis, but as always, the team was led by veteran first baseman Freddie Freeman, who lead the league with 191 hits, was fourth with a 6.1 WAR and third in the league with a .309 average. Freeman also hit 23 homers and drove in 98 runs.
2. Nolan Arenado (Colorado Rockies)
It seems annually now that Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado comes up just short of winning National League MVP and I see it happening again this season. He’s one of the biggest offensive threats in baseball (though likely aided some by home games at Coors Field) and some say he could be the greatest defender ever seen at the hot corner. Arenado led the NL in home runs this season with 38. Arenado was fifth in WAR, 10th in average, second in RBI and top 10 in hits, doubles, total bases and runs scored.
1. Christian Yelich (Milwaukee Brewers)
Christian Yelich proved to be the biggest acquisition of the last offseason when the Brewers acquired him from the Miami Marlins, as he led the upstart Brewers offense to a division title. Yelich’s second half was so fantastic that he came just one RBI and two homers shy of winning the National League’s first Triple Crown since before WWII. Yelich ran away with the N.L. batting title, hitting .326. He also led the N.L. in WAR at 7.4, led the league in slugging percentage, total bases and was only one run behind leading the league in runs scored. He should enjoy his first MVP at season’s end.