How he can win: The 26-year-old had a breakout season last year, as he hit .327 with a .400 OBP, along with 31 home runs and 107 runs scored. He even earned a gold glove for his defense. McCutchen has steadily improved throughout his four years in the majors, and his third place finish in last year’s MVP voting suggests he’s poised to take the award in 2013.
Why he might not: Well, he’s still on the Pirates. Perennial cellar dwellers, the Pirates aren’t the toughest team to stand out on, but getting MVP recognition is another story. Even a crazily good season for McCutchen might not bring contention to Pittsburgh, and the award is often given to playoff-caliber teams (last year, Posey and Cabrera faced each other in the World Series). It’ll be a tough road to climb for McCutchen, but he has his youth, which should help.