Molina a legit NL MVP candidate

Catcher's defense and big year at the plate make a strong case

Updated: August 31, 2012, 11:21 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | FanGraphs
Yadier MolinaDoug Pensinger/Getty ImagesYadier Molina's career year on offense should put him squarely in NL MVP consideration.

For most of the summer, columnists -- myself included -- have been writing about the likely fade of the Pittsburgh Pirates. And, for most of the summer, Andrew McCutchen made us all look silly, carrying the Pirates to unexpected victory after unexpected victory. As July came to a close, the Pirates were in line for a wild card, just three games behind the Reds in the NL Central, and McCutchen was the obvious choice for National League MVP.

However, August hasn't been kind to McCutchen or the Pirates. With their star center fielder slumping for the first time all season, Pittsburgh has gone just 11-16 and has fallen to third place in the NL Central, and the Bucs are now on the outside looking in at the playoff picture. And, for the first time in a couple of months, it seems possible that someone other than McCutchen might end up with the NL MVP Award at the end of the season.

That opening has led to rising campaigns for other deserving candidates. Buster Posey's tremendous performance with the Giants deserves recognition; David Wright's rebound has made him one of the game's best players again; and Ryan Braun might actually be having a better season this year than he did a year ago when he won the award. However, there's one legitimate candidate who hasn't garnered much attention yet despite the fact that he might have the best case of all: Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.


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