2013 MLB Picks and Predictions – Top 5 National League MVP Candidates: A quarter of the 2013 MLB season is in the books, and while there are still plenty of games remaining, enough of the year has gone by to start ranking the MVP candidates in each league. The National League in particular is very interesting in the early going as several young players and players that changed teams in the offseason have gotten off to hot starts and have propelled their teams into contention. As a result, few, if any, of the early frontrunners for the NL MVP Award were high on the list of favorites heading into 2013. Of course, there is still a lot of the season left, but here is a closer look at the players that are already stating a strong case to be named the 20143 NL MVP.
1. Paul Goldschmidt, First Baseman, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks are currently tied with the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants atop the NL West, and Goldschmidt’s emergence as a star has been a big reason why. He currently ranks in the top three in all Triple Crown categories, boasting a .338 average to go along with 12 homers and 35 RBIs. Goldschmidt has also scored 29 runs and his 1.077 OPS is currently tops in the majors. An already retooled offense suffered another blow when Aaron Hill went down with an injury early in the year, but thanks to Goldschmidt, Arizona looks like a contender in the National League in 2013.
2. Justin Upton, Outfielder, Atlanta Braves
Atlanta went out and acquired both Upton brothers in the offseason, and while B.J. has been a colossal bust, Justin has been terrorizing opposing pitchers. He currently leads the majors with 14 homers and average homer distance, and he also scored 32 runs and driven in 28. Meanwhile, his 1.042 OPS is the second best in the National League, and the Braves are currently leading the East Division. Upton has been the all-around offensive weapon Atlanta was hoping he would be, and he has put himself in prime position to contend for the NL MVP Award in 2013.
3. Troy Tulowitzki, Shortstop, Colorado Rockies
After injuries robbed him of most of last season, Tulowitzki is reminding everyone why he is the best player at one of baseball’s premier position. He is hitting .323 with eight home runs thus far, and his 33 RBIs are the third most in the NL. By the way, he does all the damage at the plate while playing excellent defense, and Tulowitzki has made just one error all year. Perhaps most importantly, the Rockies are two games over .500 after finishing in the cellar of the NL West last season. It is no coincidence that Colorado is once again competitive now that Tulowitzki’s bat and glove are back in the mix.
4. Shin-Soo Choo, Outfielder, Cincinnati Reds
While a lot of the familiar faces in Cincinnati have struggled a bit out of the gate, Choo has been everything the Reds hoped for when they traded for him in the offseason. He is hitting a respectable .314 this season, and his .462 on-base percentage in the past in the National League. Choo is also second with 34 runs scored, and his 1.030 OPS is third. The nine home runs he has belted are a bonus, and Choo’s steady bat at the top of the Cincinnati lineup has the Reds sitting with the second-best record in the NL despite many of the team’s power hitters scuffling.
5. Bryce Harper, Outfielder, Washington Nationals
Whether you love him or hate him, it is hard to dispute Harper’s talent and his importance to the Nationals. After all, we are talking about a Washington team that has the third-worst team average in the majors and has scored the fourth-fewest runs yet is just a ½ game back of the top spot in the NL East. Meanwhile, Harper leads the team with a .297 batting average, 11 home runs, 22 RBIs and 26 runs scored. He is also fourth in the NL with a 1.011 OPS. Basically, he has been the only dependable offensive weapon for the pitching-heavy Nationals, and without his production, they would probably be the worst offensive team in baseball.
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