Thearon W. Henderson
Andrew McCutchen is a finalist for the NL MVP award, but don't expect him to win it.
The National League Most Valuable Player award will be announced Thursday, and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen awaits the result. McCutchen is one of five finalists for the award, along with the Giants' Buster Posey, the Brewers' Ryan Braun, the Cardinals' Yadier Molina, and the Padres' Chase Headley.
Unfortunately, McCutchen won't win it. He almost certainly would have if he had stayed hot in late summer, but his .693 OPS in August helped lead to the Pirates' 11-17 record that month. McCutchen rebounded in September and October, although not quite to MVP levels, posting an .861 OPS, but the Pirates fell apart completely, eventually finishing below .500 and killing what might have been a beautiful narrative. Whatever you might think about McCutchen's performance, MVP voters love beautiful narratives, so you can bet that McCutchen won't win the award. Instead, it will probably be Posey.
This isn't any great injustice, as I've previously pointed out in this space. McCutchen's offense was tremendous, but it wasn't better than Posey's or Braun's. And McCutchen flat-out didn't deserve the Gold Glove he won -- Michael Bourn was a vastly superior center fielder, and so were several others. In reality, McCutchen is a slightly-below-average center fielder with a mediocre arm. Not only does that drop McCutchen below Posey and Braun (and perhaps Headley as well, although I don't think the voters will have taken Headley seriously as a candidate), but, as some commenters at Bucs Dugout have suggested, it seems like a consolation prize for the bigger award McCutchen isn't going to win.
In the end, I think the voters will take Posey, who played for the most successful team and arguably had the best season. Posey also played great baseball down the stretch -- he had a poor month of May, but was on fire from July until the end of the season. That's the kind of beautiful narrative the voters will love, and this time, it's going to lead them to the right conclusion.