Both Bryce Harper and Paul Goldschmidt has excellent seasons, along with the third finalist for the award, Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds. Curiously, none of the trio played on teams who made it to the post-season, which does at least avoid the icky situation of trying to decide whether the definition of "Most Valuable" should, or should not, include whether they player made a difference in their team reaching the playoffs. So that made it down to being all about the actual candidates, rather than their team, which is nice.
On playing performance alone, Harper was probably the clear winner. He had an OPS over 100 points better than both Goldschmidt and Votto, and by OPS+, he came in at 195, the highest figure by a qualifying hitter in the majors for more than a decade, since Barry Bonds* was in his prime. Not that Joey and Paul were exactly slouches, but Harper was a beast at the plate - especially considering that he only turned 23 in October. Now, on his 23rd birthday, Paul Goldschmidt had just finished a fine season, hitting 35 home-runs and with a .990 OPS. Except, that was for the High-A Visalia Rawhide. Hell, Bonds' major-league OPS in his age-22 season was a feeble .821.
Even taking defense into consideration, Harper was still a full win better by bWAR, or more than two better by fWAR, than Goldschmidt, who was second by both metrics. If Goldie had any hope, it was going to be intangibles, since the BBWAA expressly instructs voters to consider, "General character, disposition, loyalty and effort." For there's only one of the candidates who got into a fight with his team's closer in the dugout this year after a perceived lack of hustle. previously called out that pitcher during a press conference earlier in the season, and also criticized local fans.
Goldie, meanwhile, was quietly frequenting Phoenix Children's Hospital, and managing, somehow and with remarkable self-control, not to pile-drive Addison Reed through a water-cooler. You da real MVP, Paul: indeed, if Mother Teresa can be up for canonization, I venture to suggest that St. Paul the Smith of Gold can surely not be far behind, for pulling off that miracle of pacifism . However, the BBWAA voters inexplicably chose to see things differently, though with Paul's mantelpiece (or, more likely, a cupboard in a back bedroom) already groaning under the weight of numerous other awards this year, it's perhaps for the best.
But, all sarcasm and homerism aside, congratulations to Harper for a phenomenal season, that did deserve to win. And also, of course, congratulations to Goldschmidt, for somehow managing, yet again, to surpass all our expectations. I look forward immensely to more of the same in 2016 from him. Further down the ballot, let's not forget A.J. Pollock, who was mentioned on a respectable 12 ballots, though none higher than seventh, which seems a little low for my tastes. I'll also be calling in an air-strike on Craig Davis and Todd Rosniak, who ranked Goldie all the way down at seventh. WTF? Anyway. here are the full ballot results.
|Bryce Harper, Nationals||30||420|
|Paul Goldschmidt, Diamondbacks||18||3||1||3||3||2||234|
|Joey Votto, Reds||1||6||6||9||4||2||175|
|Anthony Rizzo, Cubs||3||4||7||4||2||2||3||1||1||162|
|Andrew McCutchen, Pirates||1||4||3||4||5||3||3||3||1||139|
|Jake Arrieta, Cubs||5||3||2||2||4||7||2||134|
|Zack Greinke, Dodgers||2||5||4||1||5||4||3||130|
|Nolan Arenado, Rockies||4||4||2||4||1||1||4||102|
|Buster Posey, Giants||1||3||6||5||4||6||84|
|Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers||2||2||1||1||3||2||1||49|
|Kris Bryant, Cubs||1||1||3||2||1||34|
|Matt Carpenter, Cardinals||2||8||2||26|
|Yoenis Cespedes, Mets||2||3||2||24|
|A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks||2||1||1||8||21|
|Jason Heyward, Cardinals||1||1||1||2||15|
|Dee Gordon, Marlins||3||6|
|Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals||1||5|
|Curtis Granderson, Mets||1||4|
|Gerrit Cole, Pirates||1||3|
|Adrian Gonzalez, Dodgers||1||1||3|