by James Darby

When you here the letters M-V-P in baseball, most people usually think that award should be given to the player who has the best offense stats. Well that does play a big key factor in the voting you must first understand that the award is given to the “most valuable player” not the player with the best stats. That’s why in my opinion there are really only three true candidates for the National League MVP. Surprisingly one of them is not Washington National outfielder and last years MVP Bryce Harper. Since the all-star break Harper is hitting .193 and .242 on the season, well below last years average of .330. Not to mention the fact Harper has only twenty-one home runs which is only half of what he had last season. 
      When you think National League MVP, one name you have to consider is Colorado Rockies third basemen Nolan Arenado who right now leads the league in RBI’s, is tied for first in home runs with thirty and his eighty-eight runs are second to only one of my other candidates for NL MVP, Chicago Cubs thirds basemen Kris Bryant. Kris Bryant has been a main vocal point in one of the top offenses in baseball while being on the team that has the best record overall. While Bryant is first in the National League in runs and tied for first in home runs with Nolan Arenado, you must remember it is not all about offense stats. 
    In my consideration Chicago Cubs first basemen Anthony Rizzo should be this years National League MVP. The fact I say that is because when Rizzo is not in the Cubs line up the team is just not the same. Now it is very rare when you don’t see Anthony Rizzo’s name in the line-up card, in fact it has only happened four times this year. In those games the Cubs are only 2-2 with loses coming to the Florida Marlins and the lonely Atlanta Braves who have the worst record in all of baseball. The absence of Rizzo from the Cubs line-up also effects how the team hits overall. In the four games Rizzo has not been in the line-up, the Cubs are only hitting .205 as a team. That is way below the overall team average of .257, and shows just how valuable a left handed hitting first basemen like Anthony Rizzo is to his team. 
       It’s hard to replace Anthony on defense as well. Now don’t get me wrong, no one wants to see Kris Bryant not on the field wether it be at third or in the outfield, but if Joe Maddon does decide to give Bryant a day off he can easily slide slick handed defensive stud Javier Baez in at third. That would actually be a defensive upgrade, but seeing Baez and Wilson Contreas try to play first base is a different story. Neither looks really comfortable at the position and majority of Cub fans would sleep better at night knowing Anthony Rizzo will be playing first base. After all he does have the second best fielding percentage on the team for a non-pitcher, after only Jayson Heyward. 
   Now I did say that offense stats are not the only thing to look at when considering MVP candidates, but it is worth of some notice. For Anthony Rizzo he currently leads the National League in doubles with thirty-six. Rizzo is also third in slugging percentage and he is fifth in on-base percentage. Anthony Rizzo is having a career year as he is on pace to set career highs in home runs, runs batted in, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. When you are one of the best hitters in one of the best line-ups, your going to get some extra attention for MVP honors and Rizzo does not seemed bothered by any of the attention, almost like he actually enjoys the media’s attention. There is still a long way to go before the MVP will be named but if Anthony Rizzo can keep up the solid hitting, make incredible catches standing on the wall in foul territory, and most importantly keep being a vocal leader in his club house, then I think it will be very hard for Rizzo to not be your National League MVP.

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