The reigning National League MVP isn’t really being included in the MVP talk this year. He has regressed from his stellar 2016, but he still remains a top player in the game. The major issue lies in the competition. The National League is simply littered with incredibly valuable position players this year. It seems like Kris Bryant is the one getting overlooked in the crowd.
Bryant is one of the top position players in the MLB once again. He currently sits at 5.7 fWAR and 6.0 bWARP. Those marks are good for eighth and sixth in the MLB thus far. Bryant’s bat has been his major catalyst of value this season. His .391 wOBA and 141 wRC+ have him placed in the top 15 in the majors and top 3 among third basemen. Even his baserunning has added value to his profile as he currently sits in the top 10 among qualified hitters in BsR.
The dip in value this season for Bryant is split depending on which metric you use.
In his MVP campaign, the defensive runs component of fWAR tabbed him as an 11 run third baseman. This was good for fifth in the league among them with a large gap just behind him. Now, he’s sitting at 13th, which is more in line with what FRAA has historically seen him as.
Still, Bryant does provide positive defensive value with his 0.2 FRAA and 1.8 defensive runs at third base. However, as far as bWARP is concerned, Bryant has taken a bit of a dip as a hitter. His TAv has dropped from .350 last year, which was good for third in the league, to .322 this season.
The position player crop in the National League is stellar this year. Representation in top 15 position players by fWAR and bWARP skews overwhelmingly toward the National League. There are just three American League representatives — Trout, Altuve, and Judge — for bWARP and only two more — Lindor and Jose Ramirez — for fWAR. In addition to that, Bryant has stiff competition just from National League third basemen. Anthony Rendon, Justin Turner, and Nolan Arenado are all posting MVP caliber seasons by some measure.
NL MVP Candidates
The leaders in the NL currently have somewhat of a cushion on Bryant. By fWAR, Bryant is short 0.7 wins of Charlie Blackmon and Anthony Rendon. The lead is much wider when you turn to bWARP. Giancarlo Stanton, who gets a boost in defensive value, is ahead of Bryant by almost two wins. Short of an incredible September, he’s unlikely to lead either of the valuation metrics.
This isn’t 2016 Kris Bryant. On top of that, calling him the MVP is a bit of a stretch. However, he certainly deserves to be considered for votes. Though his consideration may be trivial as he isn’t quite a leading candidate, Bryant has been a premier player in the league this season and it seems that his name gets lost in among a great group of position players.
Anthony Rescan is a Featured Writer at Beyond the Box Score and a Stats Intern at Baseball Prospectus. You can follow him on Twitter at @AnthonyRescan.