The close of baseball season is upon us.
With teams making their final push towards the playoffs, I thought now would be a good time to look back at one of the most heated debates of the regular season.
Who should win the National League MVP award?
Statistically speaking, it's difficult to pick an outright winner.
Anthony Rendon has been playing immaculate defense at third base for the Washington Nationals, and his batting has been spectacular as well.
Giancarlo Stanton has put on a show this year with his record-setting home run pace. On top of that, his fielding has been above average.
Joey Votto’s on-base percentage has been spectacular. While his defense has done nothing to set him apart, his bat has more than made up the difference.
Bryce Harper deserves to be in the conversation every year, and the fact that he ranks second in on-base percentage, batting average and slugging percentage proves this year is certainly no different.
Charlie Blackmon has quietly been having a spectacular year for the Rockies. His league-leading batting average and runs scored should put him near the top of the list.
A logical argument can be made for Nolan Arenado as well. He leads the league in extra base hits and RBIs, and his batting average is the best among third basemen. He also leads the league in error run rate (he makes the fewest mistakes per defensive opportunity).
These numbers all make for a good argument, but not a definitive one. The reason he unequivocally deserves the award, in my opinion, comes down to just how much he means to the Rockies, especially in the clutch.
They say the best players are the ones who deliver when the lights shine the brightest, and Nolan has exemplified this perfectly.
He’s been by far the most clutch player in the league this year (his clutch rating is 1.78; the next closest player’s rating is 1.05). He’s hit walk-offs, made pivotal stops late in games and done whatever else the Rockies have needed him to do to win.
Furthermore, he’s made countless highlight reel-worthy plays. He’s a clear leader on the field and in the locker room, and he keeps a level head during interviews, regardless of the outcome of the game.
Am I biased about this pick? Absolutely.
But, to be fair, this season Nolan gave me perhaps the most memorable baseball moment ever.
On Father’s Day, I had the privilege of going to a game with my dad, uncle and grandpa. The Rockies were down two heading into the bottom of the ninth and were nearing the bottom of the order.
Nolan had already hit a single, a double and a triple that day and was just a home run away from hitting for the cycle (there are usually only a few cycles every year in the MLB).
With just four batters in front of him, we knew that there was a chance he could bat in the inning and complete the cycle in dramatic fashion.
The first batter grounded out, but the next three batters singled, leaving two on with just one out (one run managed to score in the process).
Then Nolan stepped up to the plate, and with the whole stadium holding its breath, he smacked the first pitch into the left field stands for a three run walk-off home run.
I’ve never heard baseball fans even half as loud. Chants of “M-V-P” rang out from every corner of the stadium.
It was truly remarkable to be able to share that moment with my dad on Father’s Day, and it’s a moment for which I’ll be forever grateful.
I’ve been lucky enough to hear the MVP chants ring out for Nolan on a few different occasions this year, and I sincerely hope the voters have too.
No one is more deserving of the award, and there is no player or fan base to which it could mean more.
Tyler Dean is a junior studying business administration.