How he can win: Braun has put up impressive numbers ever since his 2007 rookie season, and in his past two, he’s been in peak form. He snagged the 2011 NL MVP Award by hitting .332 with 33 homers and 111 RBIs, then finished second in last year’s voting after a comparably great year (.319, 41 HR, 112 RBI). Braun’s remarkable consistency has been the story of his career so far, and there’s no reason to think anything will change.
Why he might not: It’s very simple—steroids. Braun tested positive for PED use during the 2011 playoffs, the postseason that followed his MVP season, but he avoided a 50-game suspension and kept the award through a successful appeal. Recently, his name’s cropped up again in PED talk, so suspicions alone could kill Braun’s chances, even if he continues to avoid punishment and has another MVP-caliber season.