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Harper shouldn't be penalized in MVP voting

On the 40th day of Yoenis Cespedes's incredible time with the New York Mets, he generated the hit that might have finished off the Washington Nationals once and for all, a two-run homer in the eighth inning off a shocked Drew Storen. Cespedes' teammates went crazy, collapsing on him after he descended into their dugout, as you can see here.

The most prominent among the teammates, David Wright, made the case after the game for Cespedes to be considered for the Most Valuable Player award, in light of Cespedes' 14 homers and 36 RBIs in 36 games for the Mets. From Maria Guardardo's story:

"I'm not sure how that works, but he should be in discussion for the National League MVP," captain David Wright said. "I mean, it's impressive. He's been a big-time run producer for us. It just seems like those big situations find him and more often than not, he comes through."

Bryce Harper was among those who filed out of the dugout of the Nationals, whose chances for making the playoffs are now assessed at less than 10 percent. Harper was actually the best player on the field in Wednesday's game, clubbing two homers among three hits, near the end of a summer in which he has been the best player on the field most days. At his current rate, Harper will reach base about 310 times this season, with his current slugging percentage at an MLB-high .657, 77 points better than the next closest National League player, Nolan Arenado.

But Harper is inevitably going to lose some Most Valuable Player votes, not because of his performance but because of problems with other parts of the Nationals, including a bullpen that has been utterly disastrous, beyond Washington's extensive list of injured and struggling players.

Because the Nationals are drifting out of serious contention for the playoffs, players who have produced less than him — someone who has hit for much less power and has gotten on base fewer times than he has — are going to be placed ahead of him on some MVP ballots. This is because in the past, a lot of writers have determined that a player cannot really be "most valuable" if his team doesn't reach the playoffs.

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