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Paul Goldschmidt in complex National League MVP debate

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Who is in the running to win the National League MVP award? That question is a bit tricky this year, because all the best candidates happen to be on teams unlikely to make the playoffs.

Here’s a look at where Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt stands in comparison to other top players in the league.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B Arizona Diamondbacks

Goldschmidt is neck and neck with Harper in nearly every statistical category, plus he leads the group in both stolen bases and RBI. There isn’t a category where Goldschmidt fails to impress. However, the likelihood of the Diamondbacks making the postseason is slim and there hasn’t been an MVP on a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2008.

Despite his fantastic season, Goldschmidt’s chances at the NL MVP aren’t very promising.

Bryce Harper, RF Washington Nationals

Harper’s numbers are undeniably impressive. He has the best on-base percentage and slugging percentage in all of baseball. He also has the highest WAR (Wins Above Replacement), which is the advanced statistic used to calculate a player’s total contribution to his team as opposed to someone else playing in his place.

If looking at stats alone, Harper is your NL MVP. But like Goldschmidt, Harper is on a team that more than likely won’t make the playoffs which lessens his chances.

Andrew McCutchen, CF Pittsburgh Pirates

While Goldschmidt and Harper are on teams that most likely won’t make the postseason, McCutchen is on a team that has a great chance of clinching a wild card spot. Given the likelihood of the Pirates making the playoffs and his solid stats across the board, McCutchen is a strong candidate.

However, in comparison to Harper and Goldschmidt, McCutchen’s statistics are slightly underwhelming.

Anthony Rizzo, 1B Chicago Cubs

There’s no denying that the Cubs have been red-hot lately and Anthony Rizzo has had a lot to do with it. Rizzo leads the Cubs in average, home runs, doubles and slugging percentage. But the NL hasn’t had an MVP with a batting average lower than .290 since 1988. In order for Rizzo’s chances at NL MVP to improve, his batting average will have to do the same.

Zack Greinke, RHP Los Angeles Dodgers

The NL MVP award went to a Dodgers starting pitcher last year and Greinke (15-3) is making a case for it to happen again. Greinke’s 1.59 ERA through 27 starts is the lowest of all qualified pitchers. He’s struck out 169 through 186.2 innings pitched while walking 32. However, there hasn’t been a starting pitcher with less than 20 wins who has won the NL MVP since 1950.

Other NL players worth noting: Buster Posey, Joey Votto, Nolan Arenado, Jake Arrieta.

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