The three best players in the NL all debuted for the Nats; One of them will be crowned the MVP tonight!

Photo by Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Taking nothing away from Fernando Tatis Jr., the three best players in the NL in 2021 were Trea Turner, Juan Soto and Bryce Harper — and the BBWAA voters blew it.

The player chosen often flies in the flock of media opinion. Tatis was the early runaway favorite until he faded with his shoulder injury and then the attention moved to Harper. Usually, the analysts will point to Fangraphs’ WAR as the most important indicator — but that would have to indicate that Turner was the MVP.  The top-3 in WAR and for the batting crown started with Turner. He won both crowns if they actually crowned the top WAR player — and they often do with the MVP award.  But Turner, we know, did not even make the Final-3.

When the MVP award winner in the NL is announced tonight, it will be either Harper or Soto with Tatis in third place. We already know that they are the Final-3 because MLB Network did a reveal of the Final-3 back on November 8. Turner was kicked to the curb. Most years, the voters lean towards a player whose team was going to the postseason, and Turner is the only player in the Top-5 who sniffed the playoffs. Yes, Harper led in OPS, but but but, Soto led in OPS in 2020, and he did not win the MVP. Christian Yelich led in OPS in 2019.  Freeman was the highest in WAR in 2020. Yes, there is a lack of consistency from year to year on what factors are used.

Many voters will do a flip-flop when it serves the purpose to support their vote. How many times have they said their vote was for a player who led his team to the postseason? You know, the writers who voted the previous three years for players  from postseason teams like 2020 Freddie Freeman with Atlanta, 2019 Cody Bellinger with LA Dodgers, and  2018 Christian Yelich with Milwaukee. This year, that won’t happen.

Fangraphs 2021 WAR

The finalists for the 2021 BBWAA Awards were revealed on Monday, November 8 for the  winners of the American League and National League Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Cy Young and Most Valuable Player Awards during BBWAA Awards Week from November 15-18 at 6:00 p.m. ET each night on MLB Network.

Hall of fame writer Jayson Stark wrote 2,788 words to give you his lengthy analysis of who the MVP should be between Harper and Soto, and I won’t write another 2,200 words to tell you why I would have picked Turner over Soto and Harper. You can read Stark’s article on this link in The Athletic if you pay for a subscription there. Wait until you see the fancy stats on there to choose Harper over Soto like ‘Championship Win Probability Added’.  I kid you not — Stark actually discussed that as to why a voter went with Harper over Soto. Where do you even find that stat? Is that for real? Okay, I found it — but really? Just invented by someone in 2020 to add another layer to a player’s value.  Has it really come down to making up dumb stats like this to justify a vote? So that must mean Aaron Judge will win the AL MVP since he led in Championship Win Probability Added in the AL. Of course not, Shohei Ohtani is going to be the AL MVP. Come on. This is how stupid this has become. Every year they find some other reason, but at least Judge’s team made the postseason.

If Soto wins tonight, it will be an upset. Vegas, Harper’s hometown, has him as the clear favorite to win the 2021 MVP at -275, Soto at +325, and Tatis at +600. What is crazy is that Harper, Soto and Turner all debuted for the Washington Nationals and were teammates on that 2018 Nats’ team. I’m most interested to see what place Turner finishes in, and if anyone had the guts to give him a first place vote.

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