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Point/Counterpoint: Who will win the National League MVP

By Dan Madigan and Elan DeCarlo
On April 2, 2014

Dan: As baseball season finally gets underway, the debate over who will recieve each league's most valuable player award is a very popular topic. Most regard the American League as a two man race between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera, while the National League is much more open. That being said, many believe reigning MVP Andrew McCutchen is the frontrunner once again. Others see young phenom Bryce Harper rising to superstardom and winning his first MVP award. McCutchen's all around excellence will allow him to win the NL MVP for the second straight year.
Elan: As great as Andrew McCutchen is for the Pirates, I believe 2014 will be the coronation of Bryce Harper. The 21-year-old wunderkind is poised to reach his full potential this season. Last season, before he collided into the wall in Atlanta, Harper was mashing at a .344/.430/.720 clip (average, on base, slugging). The injuries to his wrist and head hurt his season totals, but fully healed, Harper is sure to be back to his slugging ways.
Dan: Although Harper is talented, his few years in the big leagues have been marred by injuries, something that McCutchen, who has played at least 154 games per season in his four full MLB seasons, hasn't dealt with. Also, in the two seasons both players have been in the MLB, McCutchen hit for a higher average, hit more home runs and has had a lower strikeout percentage than Harper.
Elan: The point about injuries is difficult to argue against, but Harper spent the offseason working out and came into spring training with an additional 15 lbs. of muscle, according to some reports. f Harper stays healthy, his numbers are primed to go up. At just 21 years old, Harper already has two seasons of experience. So far in his career he is statistically comparable to players like Ken Griffey Jr and Mickey Mantle. In their age 21 seasons, they put up impressive stat lines. If the trend continues, look for Harper to explode.
Dan: Harper is indeed a physical freak of nature that will most likely be extremely successful in the future, but at this time, it is very difficult to say that he is one of the best players in the National League. McCutchen's ability to hit for power and average while stealing bases and playing superb defense makes him an extremely talented player with a skillset that very few others have.
Elan: I see the Washington Nationals having one of the best records in the National League and contending for the pennant. If that's the case, it means Harper is leading the way. In his first two seasons, which were incomplete, he has hit 42 homeruns. Given 162 games and 600 at bats, I could see Harper matching that total. His combination of size, power and speed make Harper a threat to join the 30 homerun, 30 steal club, and win a Gold Glove in the outfield. If he wins, Harper will be the youngest MVP in the history of baseball.

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