The Mets and Nationals have been locked in an NL East battle since August.
The Mets have built up a lead, but no lead is ever secure until one team is eliminated, and for the Mets that magic number is still at 9.
But there is an internal battle going on as well, one between Yoenis Cespedes, the Mets' best acquisition in years, and Bryce Harper the former #1 pick and now key part of the Nationals team. Both have had amazing seasons worthy of the MVP award, but only one of them can win.
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For the first time since 2007, when Jimmy Rollins took home the NL MVP award, it seems that an NL East player has a legitimate chance of winning MVP.
Bryce Harper has put up outstanding numbers for a Nationals team projected to win the World Series and Cespedes has been on a tear ever since his arrival in New York.
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The case for Bryce Harper looks strong. He has a .340 batting average, 40 home runs, and leads the National League in runs scored, OBP, slugging percentage and WAR.
Harper basically owns the National League in offense and there is no doubt he has been the best offensive player in the NL.
Even defensively he has been performing at his career best. According to Fangraphs, he has saved the third most runs above average of any NL right fielder in addition to his eight assists from the outfield.
Harper has performed above average and been that bright spot for the Nationals in a rather disappointing season, considering where people expected them to be. One of the main reasons that the Nationals are even in a playoff race can be credited to Harper.
He has been productive as an offensive player, been a stud in the outfield, and has stayed consistent and health all season long. The only thing that seems to be hurting Harper is that the Nationals' chances of being a playoff team look grim and many people say that an MVP candidate should be on a playoff team.
Nevertheless, what Harper has been for the Nationals cannot be undervalued at all as he has been exactly what everyone expected the rest of the team to be.
On fire. On fire might be the only appropriate words to describe Yoenis Cespedes since he arrived in New York after he was dealt from the Tigers minutes before the trade deadline.
On the season, he has batted .294 and has hit 35 home runs. But in 41 games with the Mets he has hit .295 with 17 of those homers. That's right, he hit 18 home runs in 102 games with the Tigers and added 17 more in just 41 with the Mets.
He has almost single-handedly turned around this season for the Mets and pushed them to where they are as a team. While everyone on the team has contributed, Cespedes sticks out as the main contributor.
Before the All-Star break, the Mets were the worst offensive NL East team, post- Cespedes they've been the best, it’s no coincidence. Not only has he been clobbering home runs he has been solid at the plate otherwise, his 103 RBIs fall second only to Nolan Arenado in the National League, his 98 runs scored put him only behind Bryce Harper.
He isn't just making his case for MVP, but he's producing some pretty historic numbers. MLB historian David Vincent notes that only five other players have hit at least 17 home runs for two teams in one season.
Cespedes has joined the likes Alfonso Soriano as one of those elite few. Cespedes has definitely played a crucial role in his position with the Mets and has made a strong case for MVP.
If it wasn't for Harper dominating the leader board in all those offensive categories, Cespedes' case for MVP would be even stronger.
However, when it boils down to it Harper has been unstoppable. He has been killing National League pitching and has helped to keep the Nationals' sinking ship afloat, but his leading six major offensive categories seal the deal for him.