“Stephen’s been great, but didn’t even crack my top 3 for MVP so far. That’s a good thing.”
As DC sports fans we’ve become accustomed to looking for bright spots out of otherwise mediocre/poor situations. But this year, in Natstown, an argument like who’s the team MVP so far actually comes with a few potential, legitimate, candidates.
So who would I have taking home the hardware after 59 games? The answer might surprise you.
My current ballot:
3. Bryce Harper
He’s batting .295. He has 6 HR’s. He has OBP of .381. He’s 19.
What else is there left to say? For some new perspective, I’ll simply send you to this Grantland article on the phenom.
My favorite line- “Let’s rephrase that: Bryce Harper, age 19, is the best hitter on a first-place team”
Bryce and MVP will more than likely become synonymous soon- just not yet.
2. Gio Gonzalez
I know, I know. How can I not have him as team MVP when he’s most likely in the top 3 for the NL Cy Young and a strong candidate to start the NL all-star team?
Though not necessarily fair, my only argument is his impact, as great it’s been, has only been felt every 5th day. As is the case with Bryce, Gio has done nothing but exceed expectations after being traded for a slew of prospects (8-2, 2.35 ERA, 89K). He has single handedly made the Nationals favorites to win the ballgame every time he’s on the mound- not much more you can ask for.
So if I actually had a vote/say, there’s a chance I’d end up picking Gio, even today. But by going on my personal thoughts and opinions alone, there’s actually another guy I think deserving of the honor so far-
1. Ian Desmond
Now before you jump down my throat and call me crazy, I’ll admit that the statistics simply aren’t there to fully justify this pick. But I, like so many others this season, have watched nearly every inning the Nats have played and am continued to be thoroughly impressed with Ian Desmond night in and night out.
Sparked by a tweet yesterday from @sportsyackontap – “Is it me or has Ian Desmond been clutch all year? #Nats”
I thought to myself- Yes, he really has been. But then my mind immediately jumped a step ahead- as in to potentially most valuable Nat so far.
Though he is on pace for 22 HR (previous career high is 10) and 85 RBI (previous career high is 65), I’d argue it’s his steady play in the field (and his cannon for an arm) and knack for timely hitting that has him atop the team MVP race for me.
He somewhat quietly leads the team in hits & batting average (among qualified players), and is 2nd in slugging & OPS. He’s learned to use to his swing early and often approach to his benefit and has become one of the more trusted guys with men on base in the lineup.
So has he necessarily been the most flashy or exciting? No, not really. But sometimes when you’re a first place team, you look for who’s been most consistent and clutch- both on offense and defense.
For me, that’s Ian Desmond.
Now would a continued Cy Young-caliber effort push Gio to the top? Quite Possibly.
Would a continued historic season for our 19-year-old phenom change things? Probably.
But for now, and there was definitely a time when I never thought I’d say this, if there’s a pressure at-bat and a big run needed, the guy I want at the plate is #20.
As I always like to say: No pressure, No Desmonds.