Giancarlo Stanton stopped playing baseball in 2014 in early September, and that cast a lot of doubt about his odds of winning the National League MVP award, an award which appeared to be in his realistic grasp beforehand. Since then, Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates have made their case as well.
2014 NL MVP - Odds to Win
When we spoke about Stanton's chances before the injury, he was up around a 39 percent chance to win the award. These latest odds shown here put him at a 25 percent chance, tied with McCutchen. Kershaw represents the remainder of the odds for the award, as a 1/2 odds translates to a 50 percent chance at the crown.
If you look at that and compare to those old odds, you will see that Stanton's chances understandably dropped a little since the start of the month. The injury took out 16 potential games from a player on track to almost play a full year for the first time ever. Had he done so, he would likely have made up the difference between his batting line and that of McCutchen's. Believe it or not, McCutchen did hit better than Stanton this year, despite the lack of traditional numbers. Stanton beat McCutchen on RBIs, home runs, and scored the same number of runs, but McCutchen's .314/.410/.542 (.412 wOBA) line is more impressive than Stanton's .288/.395/.555 (.403 wOBA) mark. Since they both missed time and accumulated a similar number of plate appearances, McCutchen's offensive production has turned out to be a bit higher than Stanton's.
Stanton's edge over McCutchen is in the traditional counting stats, where he has him beat on two of three Triple Crown categories. Stanton also still finished with the National League lead in home runs despite missing those 16 consecutive games down the stretch. If the voters are more interested in voting for dingers, Stanton is the right choice. If you just look at the lines, it probably looks a lot closer.
All of this is to say that differentiating between Stanton and McCutchen, who come in with equally impressive batting lines and similar playing time, will merely split the "position players only" voting populace. The rest will likely choose Kershaw, who completed 198 1/3 innings this season despite a month of injury. He picked up 21 pitcher wins and easily led the league in ERA with his second straight sub-2.00 year. The position player vote is dead even, while the pitcher with a transcendent year may sneak away with the win.
But if you will note, Kershaw actually lost percentage chances to win the award since early September. It seems the injury to Stanton and the return of McCutchen has eaten away at both leaders. Kershaw had a nearly 60 percent chance to win before, and now he is down to a coin flip versus the position players. As we near the voting, the odds may flip as sentiment comes out about how position players "contribute more" to their team.
The race for the NL MVP is still wide open, and Stanton's injury has clearly not discounted him. If he and the Marlins' fans are lucky, they may be witness to the team's first MVP winner in 2014.