Last year, Ryan Braun won the National League MVP in a tightly contested race over Matt Kemp. (I thought Kemp should've got it and if he hadn't got injured he'd be a lead candidate again for this race.)
Later, it was revealed that Braun tested positive for elevated levels of testosterone.
Despite successfully appealing his suspension, Braun came under fire from many pundits, and many people feel that his MVP award was tainted.
This year, Braun is having an almost identical season. His average has dipped slightly from .332 to .318, but the rest of his numbers are almost identical to 2011.
Will he win the MVP again this year? The answer is almost certainly no, despite the fact that he's definitely one of a short list of worthy candidates.
Braun, Andrew McCutchen, Buster Posey and Yadier Molina are the 4 guys who should be in the conversation.
Posey seems to be the favorite for now, in large part thanks to the way he has carried the Giants after Melky Cabrera's PED suspension. In fact, Cabrera's suspension this year and Braun's near-suspension this year might be the biggest factors if Posey wins the award.
Posey is a solid defensive catcher, and is in a tight race with McCutchen for the batting title, now that Cabrera removed himself from the race.
McCutchen cooled off a bit in the 2nd half, but he was carrying a rather mediocre Pirates team for a solid chunk of the season, and also has some outstanding numbers across the board. He leads his team in every imaginable offensive statistic, and has been their only consistently good hitter.
Molina is a bit of a dark horse, but his HOF-caliber defense has been accompanied by an incredible offensive season as well, and he might truly be more valuable than anyone else in the race, since he plays such an important position at such a high level.
Molina has always been an elite defensive catcher, but his offense this year is what puts him into this discussion. He's hitting .321 with 21 HR and 71 RBI. Those numbers aren't quite on par with McCutchen, Posey, and Braun, but when combined with his defense, they are truly remarkable.
Still, Braun might be the best overall candidate once again.
Unfortunately for him, there's almost no way he'll win, thanks to the dark cloud hanging over him from last year's PED test. Appeal or not, that will still be in the back of voters' minds.
Who do you think should win the NL MVP award this year?