The National League Most Valuable Player finalists were announced on Monday, and it was most notable because of one name that wasn’t on the list: Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman. Instead, the three finalists are Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, and Manny Machado.
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In these awards, the “finalists” are simply the top three vote-getters. The winner has already been determined, and this is the league’s way of drawing out the anticipation. The winner will almost surely be Goldschmidt, who led the NL in OPS and was right near the lead in both versions of WAR. Arenado actually led Goldschmidt in both versions of WAR and Machado also finished ahead of Goldy on FanGraphs, but both of those players derived much of their value from their defense, which traditionally hasn’t played as strongly into MVP voting as offense.
Freeman led the league on on-base percentage and finished second behind Goldschmidt in OPS and wRC+. Freeman also led in runs, hits, and doubles and finished second in batting average. By FanGraphs WAR, Freeman was tied with Goldschmidt at 7.1, just behind Machado (7.4) and Arenado (7.3).
Freeman will likely finish in fourth place, but it’s a little surprising that he didn’t make the top three. This year was definitely a race that could have gone several different ways, including the possibility that Arenado and Goldschmidt might have split the Cardinals vote. But in the end, Freeman was probably done in by having a better supporting cast than the others.
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