C Yadier Molina
Most of his numbers were eerily close to the ones he produced last year, when he finished fourth in the NL MVP race. His power numbers regressed a bit, as expected, but he still set career highs in runs (68), hits (161), doubles (44), RBI (80) and batting average (.319). Throw in his strong play behind the plate and Molina was nearly a six win player this season, making him worthy of strong MVP consideration once again.
Honorable Mention: Buster Posey
1B Chris Davis
Davis built on last year's breakout with a Jose Bautista-esque power explosion. Crush led the majors with 53 home runs, 138 RBI, and 370 total bases. He also posted the best AB/HR ratio in the bigs and finished a close second to Miguel Cabrera in slugging percentage, falling two percentage points shy of Detroit's third baseman. To me, Davis's most impressive statistic is his 96 total bases (42 doubles and one triple on top of his 53 long balls)--21 more than anyone else.
Honorable Mention: Paul Goldschmidt
2B Robinson Cano
I'm not sure anyone was more valuable to his team than Robinson Cano (7.6 bWAR) was to the New York Yankees this year. Cano was the team's lone offensive force for much of the season until Alfonso Soriano arrived in late July, so it should come as no surprise that he was intentionally walked 16 times (more than Chris Davis). That didn't stop him from smashing 27 home runs, driving in 107 runs, clubbing 41 doubles and batting .314/.383/.516. Those numbers should help his case at the bargaining table this winter as he pursues a new mega-contract.
Honorable Mention: Matt Carpenter
3B Miguel Cabrera
The likely AL MVP topped his Triple Crown season from one year ago. Miggy threatened to repeat early on but ultimately fell short of Chris Davis in both power categories. Even so, he won the "sabermetric" Triple Crown by leading baseball in the three triple slash stats--average (.348) OBP (.442) and slugging (.636). His bat alone was worth nine wins above replacement, more than enough to compensate for his subpar baserunning and nightmarish defense.
Honorable Mention: Josh Donaldson
SS Hanley Ramirez
Though injuries limited to just 86 games he was quite clearly the best shortstop in baseball when healthy. Ramirez rebounded from several underwhelming seasons by batting a ludicrous .345/.402/.638 and playing above average defense, making him a five-win player in little more than half a season.
Honorable Mention: Troy Tulowitzki
LF Matt Holliday
Holliday's numbers languished below his lofty standards for much of the year, leading some to wonder whether his best days were behind him. The 33 year-old promptly erased those doubts with a torrid second half (.994 OPS). When the dust settled he'd scored 103 runs, knocked in 94 and batted .300/.389/.490.
Honorable Mention: Starling Marte
CF Mike Trout
Trout once again asserted himself as baseball's best all-around player, leading the league in runs, walks, and enjoying another ten win season (10.4 to be exact) per fWAR. In this millennium he joins Barry Bonds as the only players with consecutive ten-win campaigns.
Honorable Mention: Andrew McCutchen
RF Jayson Werth
Werth was worth close to five wins this year in what was easily his finest season as a member of the Washington Nationals. While the Nats scuffled through a disappointing season Werth was hitting .318/.398/.532 with 25 home runs, reminding everyone why Washington gave him a seven-year, $126 million contract in the first place.
Honorable Mention: Hunter Pence
DH David Ortiz
Big Papi continued to mash at age 37, batting .309/.395/.564 with 30 homers and 103 RBI--numbers that might look even more impressive had he not opened the season on the Disabled List.
Honorable Mention: Edwin Encarnacion
RHP Max Scherzer
Even after removing his superlative 21-3 record from the equation, Scherzer still deserves to win the AL Cy Young based on his microscopic 0.97 WHIP, 2.90 ERA and 240 strikeouts. At 28 he finally harnessed his abundant potential by displaying the kind of consistency and maturity needed to develop into a legitimate ace.
Honorable Mention: Adam Wainwright
LHP Clayton Kershaw
The 2011 NL Cy Young recipient and 2012 runner-up turned in the best season of his sterling career. He has a case to win the league's most valuable player award after compiling 8.4 bWAR--most in the Senior Circuit--while leading the majors with his sparkling 1.83 ERA (good for a 194 ERA+) and 0.92 WHIP in 236 innings of work. He joins Greg Maddux and Sandy Koufax as the only NL hurlers to win three straight ERA titles.
Honorable Mention: Cliff Lee
CL Koji Uehara
Ignore the pedestrian saves total (21) and marvel at his other numbers, especially his 1.09 ERA, 0.57 WHIP and 11.22 K/BB ratio. Uehara befuddled batters all season long, holding them to a collective .130/.160/.237 line that makes it clear just how dominant Boston's closer was this year.
Honorable Mention: Craig Kimbrel