Box-Toppers' top batters—Jose Abreu, Troy Tulowitzki—missing from MVP finalists; pitcher Kershaw likely to win NL MVP

Baseball’s Most Valuable Player Awards generally go to the top batter in each league.

But this year, Box-Toppers’ top-ranked batters—Jose Abreu of the White Sox and Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies—won’t win the awards; they weren’t even named as finalists. And in the National League, the award will likely go to a pitcher.

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce the MVP Awards for the American League and National League on Thursday. Last week, they released their three finalists in each league.

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, one of three finalists in the National League, has the most Box-Toppers points of any player this season (and the most of any player in a single season since 2002), with 31.5. Because of his dominating regular season performance (and perhaps because of a generally lackluster year for NL batters), Kershaw is seen as the odds-on-favorite to win the NL MVP, being one of only four pitchers to win the award in the past 30 years.

Kershaw is the only pitcher listed among the six finalists in both leagues.

The other two finalists for NL MVP, Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates and Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins, did not finish among the top 100 players in Box-Toppers points (see details in the chart below) and neither was even the top-ranked batter in Box-Toppers points on their own team. (Pirates: Neil Walker, 7.0 Box-Toppers points, Marlins: Marcell Ozuna, 8.0 points.)

The NL batting leader in Box-Toppers points for 2014 was Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies with 11.6 points—far outdistancing second-place NL batter Buster Posey of the Giants (8.5 Box-Toppers points). However, Tulowitzki will not receive consideration for postseason awards because he was out with injury and recovering from surgery much of the season, playing only 91 games, just over half the season.

Like Tulowitzki, the leader in Box-Toppers points among AL batters, Jose Abreu of the White Sox, was not listed as one of the three finalists. Abreu, who won AL Rookie of the Year Award this week, also far outdistanced the second-place AL batter, Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers, who had 12.5 Box-Toppers points. Cabrera, who won AL MVP the past two seasons, is also not listed as a finalist this year.

The three AL MVP finalists include only one player among the top 10 AL batters in Box-Toppers points for 2014—Mike Trout of the Angels, who with 8.5, ranks seventh among AL batters and 78th among all players.

Trout is the only one of the three AL MVP finalists who leads his own team’s batters in Box-Toppers points and the only one in Box-Toppers’ top 100 player rankings. One of the finalists, Victor Martinez, ranked third among Tigers batters in Box-Toppers points. The other finalist, Michael Brantley of the Indians, ranked fifth among Indians batters in Box-Toppers points. (See the chart below for more details.)

If Kershaw, a pitcher, can win the NL MVP award, why can’t a pitcher be considered for the AL MVP? After all, the player with the most Box-Toppers points each season is usually the pitcher. This year was no exception in either league. The leading AL player was Indians pitcher Corey Kluber with 25.8 Box-Toppers points. But unlike Kershaw, Kluber was not named a finalist for the AL MVP.

On the other hand, Kershaw’s year was so dominant that he had more than double (nearly triple) the Box-Toppers point total of his league’s top batter—he had 31.5, which was 2.71 times the points of Tulowitzki’s 11.6.) Kluber did not quite have twice as many Box-Toppers points as his league’s top batter—he had 25.8 points, which was 1.66 times Abreu’s 15.5.)

Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.

Most Valuable Player Award finalists

Here are the three finalists for the Most Valuable Player Award in each league and their 2014 Box-Toppers point (BTP) totals. Also included is their overall rank among all players. Also listed are Box-Toppers’ top-ranked batters from each league who were not named finalists.

AL finalists Team Pos BTP Rank NL finalists Team Pos BTP Rank
Michael Brantley Indians lf 3.5 283 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers pi sp 31.5 1
Victor Martinez Tigers dh 5.5 176 Andrew McCutchen Pirates cf 6.5 137
Mike Trout Angels cf 8.5 78 Giancarlo Stanton Marlins rf 6.7 130
*Jose Abreu White Sox 1b 15.5 14 *Troy Tulowitzki Rockies ss 11.6 39

* These players were Box-Toppers' highest-ranking batters in each league, neither of whom was named as a finalist for the award.