Nolan Arenado: Early Front-Runner for NL MVP?

Nolan Arenado has become the face of the Colorado Rockies after an excellent 2015 season.

Following the trade of Troy Tulowitzki to the Toronto Blue Jays and the ongoing speculation regarding Carlos Gonzalez‘s future with the Rockies, Nolan Arenado‘s impressive 2015 campaign erased any doubt that he is viewed as the face of the organization. His impressive numbers included 42 homers, 130 RBI’s, along with a slash-line of .287/.323/.575.

Last season, Arenado finished 8th in National League MVP voting, behind the likes of winner Bryce Harper, Paul Goldschmidt and Joey Votto.  While many pundits before the season will most likely predict an MVP repeat for Bryce Harper, or other for other candidates like Andrew McCutchen and Paul Goldschmidt to bring home the award, Nolan Arenado is not only an MVP candidate, but in my mind, is one of the front-runners.

If you look at Nolan Arenado’s statistics from last season, it is truly remarkable what the 24-year-old Rockies’ third-baseman accomplished. The Denver Post’s Patrick Saunders compared Arenado with other MVP candidates in November, showcasing truly how remarkable Nolan Arenado was last season.

Nolan Arenado tied Bryce Harper for the most homers in the NL in 2015 with 42, while also leading the majors in extra base hits and total bases. Saunders also points out that Arenado’s 89 extra-base-hits were the most in major league history by a third baseman. On top of all this, he led the majors with 130 RBI’s.

Now, Nolan Arenado’s .287 batting average was lackluster compared to Bryce Harper’s .330 or Paul Goldschmidt’s .321; but it was only Arenado’s third season at the big league level. As he continues to enter his prime, his ability to consistently hit for average should only increase.

Another factor that will likely affect Nolan Arenado’s NL MVP candidacy this season is how the Colorado Rockies perform in the competitive NL West. Last season, the Rockies’ 68-94 record did not help his cause, as Colorado tied with the Milwaukee Brewers for the fourth-worst record in the majors.

MVP voters take into account a team’s performance; and with the Rockies’ disappointing record last season, it did not afford Nolan Arenado any favors. 

With the season almost upon us, the outlook for the Colorado Rockies is not good. While Colorado’s farm system is consistently ranked as a Top 10 system in the majors (ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Rockies as his number 7 system), the major league team has some work to do.

A dearth of pitching is once again the biggest flaw for the club; but their are pieces on the Rockies that could help them remain competitive this season. Carlos Gonzalez, Charlie Blackmon and D.J. LeMahieu are excellent offensive options, with Nolan Arenado taking over as the face of the franchise.

I honestly do believe that Nolan Arenado is one of the top early candidates for the NL MVP award; but until the Colorado Rockies can string together a competitive season, he will continue to place behind players like Bryce Harper.

If Arenado can hit for a higher batting average this season, while maintaining his excellent offensive output, he could very well become a front-runner for the NL MVP award.