- Dave Cameron, FanGraphs
The AL MVP is going to be Miguel Cabrera, barring something miraculous, or a total collapse by Detroit, and even then, he might still win the award anyway. The outcome of the NL MVP race isn't quite as clear, but it will very likely come down to Clayton Kershaw, Yadier Molina, or Andrew McCutchen.
These are the players who are going to receive recognition for their efforts in contributing to a team's success, and rightfully so; they're all having fantastic seasons and are worthy candidates.
But baseball is not basketball, and the impact any one player can have on a team's final record pales in comparison to the sum of his teammates; just ask Mike Trout how realistic it is for even the game's very best performer to "carry" his team to the postseason without assistance.
The reality is that good teams are made up of numerous contributors. So today, let's talk about some of the players who deserve recognition on MVP ballots, even if they aren't going to occupy one of the few spots.
While McCutchen is the star and pitchers such as A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano get the spotlight, Martin might be the biggest factor in the Pirates' success this year. Signed for a relative pittance -- $17 million over two years -- after the Yankees decided they didn't want him back, Martin has been a revelation in Pittsburgh.
The bat is more solid than spectacular, but a 109 wRC+ from an everyday catcher is well above average for the position, and unlike many other good-hitting catchers, he doesn't get a break from the toll of catching by spending time at first base or designated hitter. In fact, Martin ranks seventh in the majors in innings behind the plate, which is where his value really comes through.
Russell Martin leads a list of 2013's unsung heroes.