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Less than four weeks remain in the 2016 Major League Baseball season, so the majority of the season has already been played. There’s still plenty more to go though, and at this point of the calendar, it’s fun to discuss how the individual awards races are going to shape up. Let’s do exactly that and examine the NL MVP race.

Before we dive in, let’s point out that our awards power rankings posts are not our predictions or even necessarily how we would vote. These are intended to be a snapshot of where things stand at the moment, and we’re making subjective judgments on how the vote would turn out based upon recent historical voting tendencies.

On that latter point, we know that winning matters and making the playoffs matters even more. Even if you disagree, that’s just how it goes with voting for the MVP. And with the Cubs dominating the NL Central — and, really, the entire league — it shouldn’t be a surprise to see one of their young cornerstone players atop our latest NL MVP power rankings.

NL MVP Power Rankings

usatsi9509854.jpgKris Bryant is the NL MVP favorite at the moment. USATSI

Kris Bryant 3B / Chicago Cubs

AVG/OBP/SLG: .302/.398/.575HR: 36RBI: 91WAR: 7.1

A few weeks ago Dayn Perry wrote Bryant was starting to pull away in the NL MVP race, though I’m not entirely sure that’s true. He is obviously having an excellent season, and he leads all NL players in WAR by more than a full win, so crowning him MVP is more than reasonable. I don’t have an NL MVP vote this year but if I did, I would vote for Bryant University Bulldogs right now.

Now, that said, I think there are two things working against him. One, Bryant has an MVP caliber teammate in Anthony Rizzo , and when two MVP candidates are on the same team, they tend to take votes away from each other. And two, the Chicago Cubs are so far ahead of the pack that the “they would be great even without him” mentality may set in, and cause voters to vote for a player whose team had to fight a little more to get to the postseason. It wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened.

Daniel Murphy 2B / Washington Nationals

AVG/OBP/SLG: .340/.383/.593HR: 25RBI: 98WAR: 3.7

What an incredible season for Murphy. He’s second top two (top two!) in the league in batting average, slugging percentage, OPS, doubles, hits, and RBI in addition to being top 10 in many other categories. Murphy is all over the offensive leaderboards, and he’s even provided the Washington Nationals with some versatility by playing first and third in addition to his usual second base. He has been, by far, the best player on the second best team in the league this season. I fully expect Murphy to receive plenty of first place MVP votes and, at this very moment, I think it’s a close-ish race between him and Bryant.

Corey Seager SS / Los Angeles Dodgers

AVG/OBP/SLG: .316/.377/.535HR: 24RBI: 65WAR: 5.5

Forget about the Rookie of the Year. Seager has that locked up already. He’s been one of the best players in the entire NL this season — he’s third in WAR, for what it’s worth — and is third in the league in hits, fifth in total bases, and seventh in OPS. Add in very good defense at a premium position and Seager is the stuff MVPs are made of these days. The best player on the third best team in the league sits third in our Power Rankings, and that’s really not much of a coincidence.

Anthony Rizzo 1B / Chicago Cubs

AVG/OBP/SLG: .292/.389/.540HR: 26RBI: 93WAR: 4.8

Rizzo has cooled down a tad in the second half, though he built up such a strong MVP case foundation in the first half that it won’t matter. He’s almost certainly going to finish in the top five of the voting for the second straight year. Rizzo has the home runs, the RBI, and the highlight reel defense, plus he’s very active in the community and does a lot for charity. Like I said earlier though, Bryant and Rizzo may end up splitting the Cubs vote.

Nolan Arenado 3B / Colorado Rockies

AVG/OBP/SLG: .293/.363/.577HR: 36RBI: 117WAR: 5.8

The only reason Arenado isn’t higher is the fact the Colorado Rockies are out of the race. He’s the best player on a non-contending team in the NL, and while that is often good enough for a top five finish in the voting, it’s rarely good enough to actually win. Arenado is a brilliant two-way player who leads the league in homers, RBI, and total bases, and he’s going to win his fourth straight Gold Glove too.

For all the success he’s already had, Bumgarner is currently in the middle of the best season of his career, and he’s been the best player on a team currently in line to reach the postseason. The Clayton Kershaw injury means no NL pitcher has a real shot to win MVP this year, but Bumgarner is going to get plenty of votes, I believe. You could argue he’s the single most important player in the NL. Take him away from the San Francisco Giants and they’d be far outside the postseason picture.

Joey Votto 1B / Cincinnati Reds

AVG/OBP/SLG: .312/.435/.524HR: 22RBI: 79WAR: 2.7

Votto is the most underappreciated great hitter of his generation. He finished third in the MVP voting last season despite playing for a 98-loss team, and his numbers this season are nearly identical across the board. The NL MVP field is a little stronger this year than it was last year, which is why I have a hard time putting Votto any higher in our power rankings.

Matt Carpenter 3B / St. Louis Cardinals

AVG/OBP/SLG: .276/.390/.514HR: 17RBI: 58WAR: 3.3

Had he not missed a month with an oblique injury, the St. Louis Cardinals would likely have a bigger lead on a postseason spot and Carpenter would definitely place higher in our power rankings. He’s among the league leaders in on-base percentage and OPS+, plus he’s played three infield positions regularly (first, second third), so he’s a two-way asset. The injury hurts Carpenter’s candidacy more than anything. So it goes.

Yoenis Cespedes CF / New York Mets

AVG/OBP/SLG: .294/.365/.559HR: 27RBI: 68WAR: 3.0

Cespedes’ finish in the MVP voted could come down to the New York Mets ‘ place in the standings. If they make the postseason, he might finish in the top five or six. If they fall short, he may have to settle for a spot lower on the ballot. Cespedes has been the team’s best player this year and he’s among the league leaders in homers and OPS, and that usually equals MVP votes.

Christian Yelich LF / Miami Marlins

AVG/OBP/SLG: .304/.379/.489HR: 18RBI: 85WAR: 5.0

The Miami Marlins hung around the postseason race just long enough to get Yelich some MVP love. He has a chance to drive in 100 runs, and in addition to all the offense, Yelich is a Gold Glove caliber left fielder who has seen plenty of time in center.

Honorable Mention: Brandon Crawford , Giants; Freddie Freeman , Atlanta Braves ; Paul Goldschmidt , Arizona Diamondbacks ; Jeurys Familia , Mets; Jose Fernandez , Marlins; Kyle Hendricks , Cubs; Kenley Jansen , Los Angeles Dodgers ; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; DJ LeMahieu , Rockies; Starling Marte , Pittsburgh Pirates ; Addison Russell , Cubs; Justin Turner , Dodgers; Max Scherzer , Nationals; Noah Syndergaard , Mets


Source: CBS Sports Headlines / NL MVP Power Rankings: Kris Bryant and Daniel Murphy pulling away from the pack