What makes Max Scherzer #31 so special as a player? It is that inner fire that burns with the desire to get better every single game. Be it as a pinch-hitter, a baserunner, a fielder, a batter, and a pitcher, Max Scherzer is having an MVP season as there has never been a pitcher on the precipice of this type of greatness. Max Scherzer leads all NL players in Fangraphs WAR at +6.7 which includes +0.8 his offense and defense and baserunning.
The nearest any position player is to Scherzer’s value is Freddie Freeman at +5.0 WAR. Max Scherzer ranks 24th in the NL with a .296 batting average, but what is really amazing is Scherzer’s .412 batting average in RISP situations.
What makes the Nationals so special is every 5-days when Max Scherzer takes the mound for his Washington Nationals team they have a great chance to win. The Nats are 18-8 in games started by Max Scherzer and the team has actually lost 7 games in which Scherzer gave up no more than 2-runs.
Max Scherzer earned his @MLB
leading 16th win Friday.
The @Nationals starter also picked up his 16th hit of the season – a career-high.
He's also scored 2 runs, bringing his season total to 7 – the most of any primary-position pitcher this season (excludes Shohei Ohtani). pic.twitter.com/Bbw8VO6fVG
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 18, 2018
Most fans do not believe that pitchers should win MVP awards, and that would surely be logical in the 2-dimensional American League where pitchers generally just pitch and play defense. That did not stop Justin Verlander in 2011 from winning an AL MVP. Coincidentally, Max Scherzer was Verlander’s teammate.
“He does it all for us,” Bryce Harper said. “Every fifth day, he goes out there and pitches the ball well and runs the pillows really well and scores.”
While Scherzer vies for his 4th Cy Young award, he has stiff competition from Aaron Nola and Jacob deGrom. There is no clear-cut path to that award. MVP voters must look at the tape of Scherzer doing what MVPs do which is being the best player in their league and leading their team to wins.
Here is the BBWAA criteria and guidance for voting for an MVP, but there is certainly gray area left up to interpretation and some voters pick the best player regardless of anything else:
“The rules of the voting remain the same as they were written on the MVP first ballot in 1931:
(1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense;
(2) number of games played;
(3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort;
(4) former winners are eligible; and
(5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.”
If I had a vote, Max Scherzer would be my MVP today.
“I just think it’s a necessity to be a great starting pitcher in this league, in the National League,” Scherzer said. “You have an opportunity to help the team in more ways than just on the mound, and I look for every situation possible to contribute any way I can.”
The gang that Max Scherzer leads of 25-men is hoping for a miracle to win an NL East title and if Scherzer could pitch every day you know the Nats could do it. Scherzer’s candidacy for his 4th Cy Young award has been there and now the buzz should intensify for MVP buzz. A Silver Slugger award for the best offensive pitcher seems probable, but Scherzer would trade all of that for the ultimate baseball prize. He has done everything humanly possible in his 26 starts and in his 2 pinch-hitting appearances.