Bryce Harper had an incredible season in 2015, hitting 42 home runs to go along with a .330/.460/.649 hitting line. This historic offensive output was rewarded tonight as Harper was awarded the National League MVP in a unanimous vote. Paul Goldschmidt received more than half of the second-place votes to finish in second, followed by Joey Votto, Anthony Rizzo, and Andrew McCutchen. Perhaps a testament to the total team effort put forth by the Cardinals as well as a lack of appreciation for Jason Heyward's defense, the Cardinals did not place a single player in the top ten despite winning 100 games.
Perhaps an example of an evolving electorate, none of the top three finishers for MVP played on teams that made the playoffs. It was not Bryce Harper's fault that the rest of his team failed to play at his high level, nor was it the fault of Goldschmidt or Votto that their teams were less talented than the Cardinals and other playoff qualifiers.
Matt Carpenter was the top finisher on the Cardinals, being named on 12 ballots, although none higher than seventh. Carpenter was not quite as good as his breakout 2013 season, but he played much better than he did in 2014 and broke out in the power department, hitting 28 home runs on the season. Carpenter's surprising home run total was good for eighth in the National League and his overall hitting line of .272/.365/.505 helped fill some of the void created when Matt Holliday went down with injury. Carpenter, an ideal leadoff hitter, combined his good eye with power that often set the tone for the Cardinals.
Jason Heyward found himself on just five ballots, with the highest placement at number five by Scott Miller of Bleacher Report. While players on playoff teams finishing high in the voting is an indication that the writers have moved forward some, Heyward's lackluster finish is some evidence that the writers either do not pay attention to WAR or simply do not trust Heyward's value defensively. Heyward finished sixth among position players inthe National League for fWAR with six wins above replacement and he placed fifth in the National League with 6.5 bWAR.
It would be easy to say that Heyward's defense is something best understood and appreciated up close, but that did not translate into votes locally. Two of the writers who saw him the most this season in Derrick Goold and Rick Hummel of the Post-Dispatch both left Heyward off of their ballots. Goold placed Carpenter ninth, while Hummel put Carpenter in seventh and giving Trevor Rosenthal his lone placement on the ballot in sixth place. As far as locales go, Heyward's votes can from two national writers, including Tim Kurkijan of ESPN.com, both Chicago writers, and one Pittsburgh writer indicating that perhaps Heyward is best appreciated when he is beating your local team. The Cardinals are hopeful they will not have to experience that sort of appreciation as Heyward explores his options in free agency.
The complete voting is below, from the BBWAA:
|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|