Who’s your Most Valuable National?

While watching a host of games last night - and man, was there a lot of entertaining sports action on TV with two MLB playoff games, an overtime Capitals game and “Thursday Night Football” - I got into a discussion with my buddy about who should take home National League MVP honors.

I feel Andrew McCutchen is deserving of the award after leading the Pirates to the playoffs for the first time in 21 years, sitting among the league leaders in the three major offensive categories, stealing 27 bases and playing top-notch defense. My buddy feels Paul Goldschmidt should take home the hardware after his monster season.

That discussion, however, is neither here nor there.

The reason I bring it up is because it got me wondering about a topic that’s more fitting for this forum, which is: Who is your Most Valuable National for the 2013 season?

Late in the season, Davey Johnson was asked for his choice for Most Valuable National. He offered up two guys he felt worthy - Jayson Werth and “the shortstop.”

Personally, I’m with Johnson. I feel Werth and Ian Desmond are the two guys most deserving of the honor.

As we review the candidates, let’s start with Werth, who had arguably the best season of his 11-year major league career.

Werth had a .318 batting average this season (ranking fifth in the National League), .398 on-base percentage (fifth) and .532 slugging percentage (third).

His 25 home runs tied for ninth-most in the NL and one behind Ryan Zimmerman for the team lead, and he paced the Nationals in RBIs with 82. Werth also stole 10 bases and was caught just once.

After missing a month with a hamstring injury, the right fielder returned and made a major impact on the Nats’ late-season run. He hit a ridiculous .372/.449/.633 from July 1 until Sept. 11, with 15 homers and 50 RBIs in that 63-game stretch.

If not for Werth’s surge over the final few months, I’m not sure the Nats make their surge. He was that good.

Then there’s Desmond, who continues to look like a star in the making, and a guy that the Nationals will have to seriously consider locking up to a long-term deal in the near future.

Desmond hit .280/.331/.453 this year, and posted his second straight 20/20 season (one of just nine major leaguers to get to the 20/20 mark this year), hitting 20 homers and stealing 21 bases. He also drove in 80 runs and played in 158 games, most on the team.

For much of the season, Desmond’s defense was tremendous, and like Werth, he provided quiet leadership in the clubhouse, as well. Desmond was a rock for Johnson, a guy that went out there pretty much every single day and led by example.

Beyond those two, there are a couple of other candidates that we could throw into the mix here.

Tyler Clippard had another huge season, going 6-3 with a 2.41 ERA in 72 games. He allowed just 37 hits in 71 innings, which is just insane, and struck out 73.

Seriously, think about that for a second. Clippard allowed a hit pretty much just once every other inning this year. Nuts.

This marks the fourth straight season that Clippard has appeared in at least 70 games and worked at least 70 innings. The guy is a horse.

Jordan Zimmermann also deserves to be tossed into the mix after going 19-9 with a 3.25 ERA this season. He led the league in wins, threw four complete games, tied for second-most in the majors, had an impressive 1.088 WHIP and worked a career-high 213 1/3 innings.

Zimmermann paced the starting staff all season, and if not for a lingering neck injury that affected him midway through the season and brought his numbers down a bit, we might be talking about Zimmermann as a legitimate Cy Young candidate behind Clayton Kershaw. As it is, I wouldn’t be surprised if Zimmermann ended up finishing somewhere around fourth or fifth in the voting.

So there, I’ve laid out a bunch of the candidates for you. There are, of course, others who could be thrown into the mix, and if you want to shake it up a bit and go with someone a little bit further off the radar, go for it.

For what it’s worth, if I was submitting a MVN ballot, I’d vote Werth, Desmond, Clippard in that order.

What about you? Who you got as the Most Valuable National for 2013?

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