Do The Colorado Rockies Have An MVP? Making Nolan Arenado’s Case

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Sep 21, 2015; Denver, CO, USA; Colorado Rockies third baseman N. Arenado (28) reacts to his strikeout in the fifth inning against the Pittsburgh Pirates at Coors Field. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Good player, bad team

One of the biggest things holding Arenado back is that he’s a great player on one of the worst teams in baseball. If you’re a true MVP, the line of thought goes, shouldn’t you make your team a little better? How come the team is so bad?

Again, just as with the sabermetrics angle above, this old school line of thinking is sort of dumb (especially this year, since arguably the three best candidates — Arenado, Harper, and Paul Goldschmidt — play for non-playoff teams). But if you think the good-player-good-team argument doesn’t hold water with MVP voters, you’re in for a disappointment when award season comes around.

[ Related: Who will win all the major MLB awards this year? ]

But there’s a monkey wrench here: Harper’s Nationals collapsed at the end of the year. They won’t make the playoffs. None of that is Harper’s fault (in fact, he’s the only reason they stuck around as long as they did), but the fact is the presumptive front runner is playing for a mediocre team.

The other two interesting candidates, Arenado and Goldschmidt, are playing for also-rans. Could the Nats’ demise leave Arenado in a better position for MVP voters? That is, since Harper’s team isn’t making the playoffs, would voters throw the good-team argument completely out the window and vote just on numbers?

Or… do we just give the MVP to Andrew McCutchen? Not to say he doesn’t deserve it; after a slow start to the year, he’s certainly been very good. But you can easily make a case for Arenado, Goldschmidt, and (most especially) Harper ahead of McCutchen, and I’m nervous about simply anointing the best player on one of the best teams as the Most Valuable Player every year. But hey, that’s just me.

Next: So can Nolan actually win?