I have a bit of a dilemma. It isn’t a bad dilemma. It is a situation Nationals fans would be agreeable to and one many would call me an overly bright-eyed optimist for predicting, and it is this: I can’t decide who to pick for National League MVP, Bryce Harper or Trea Turner. From all indications, Harper is poised to have a season much like 2015 and Turner is ready to pick up where he left off in 2016. That makes it a hard choice. Is it the shortstop who is likely to hit 20 homers and steal around 60 bases, or the slugger who is also going to hit near .300 and get on base around 40 percent of the time.
Bryce Harper has the name value, but sometimes winning a second MVP award can be more difficult than the first. How many times has a great player lost votes for being a great player in favor of a first-year candidate because the perception is the great player will be there again? First-year candidates sometimes have it easier. But now we’re debating the merits on which the voters are going to vote, and if there is a group harder to predict than the BBWAA, I haven’t heard of them. It is far more important to discuss the individual skills.
Let’s say I’m right, and Turner and Harper both play 2017 to their potential and have the type of season we know they can. Turner rips bag after bag and Harper drives bombs out of the park nearly every other game. Does the award go to the player with less power but a speed game that is unrivaled in baseball, or does it go to the prototypical MVP-type in Harper? This is a tough one to figure out. At some point we’re going to have to look at advanced stats, and since this is all in the future, it is hard to know what those will look like.
My thoughts are Turner will be more valuable because he’s a shortstop and because he will provide both power and speed, while Harper will be providing mainly power from a position in the field thought of as a power spot. On the other hand, 40-homer bats are becoming more and more precious, and if Harper can cross the 50-homer barrier, then the award has to go to him. It is really tough to decide and this is why this debate has been raging in my head for days. I still lean towards Turner because he’s going to be scoring runs by the dozens, but then again, Harper will be the one driving him in.
The only thing for certain is watching them both play is going to be a whole lot of fun. Turner is going to be the spark and Harper the ignition to a lineup that is going to be one of the best if not the best Nats fans have ever seen or that has ever played baseball in Washington period. 2017 could be the best year to be a Nats fan in a string of years where it has been a pretty good time to be a Nats fan, and hopefully when the season is over and the World Series has been played, we can revisit this discussion and decide on who’s the MVP: Turner or Harper.
David Huzzard blogs about the Nationals at Citizens of Natstown. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHuzzard. His views appear here as part of MASNsports.com’s season-long initiative of welcoming guest bloggers to our pages. All opinions expressed are those of the guest bloggers, who are not employed by MASNsports.com but are just as passionate about their baseball as our regular roster of writers.