Originally posted on Taking Bad Schotz  |  Last updated 9/14/13

Heading into the final month of the regular season, the NL MVP Award is still up for grabs. Here is a look at the top candidates in the final stretch. Photo Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Clayton Kershaw In a contract year, Kershaw has established himself as the best pitcher in baseball. He leads the NL in WHIP (0.93), ERA (1.94), WAR (7.0), and strikeouts (214). Even when the Dodgers were struggling at the beginning of the season, Kershaw kept them in contention. He halted losing streaks and providing momentum despite a lack of run support. Expect Kershaw to get a ridiculous contract next season from the deep-pocketed Dodger owners. Not Far Behind: Andrew McCutchen McCutchen has Pittsburgh excited about baseball again, leading the team to their first record over .500 in 20 years. He has a triple slash of  .328/.407/.521 with 19 homeruns and 27 stolen bases. His 7.7 WAR rating ranks him second highest in the entire majors, trailing only Mike Trout. The only thing holding him back is that his homerun and RBI numbers don’t stack up that well compared to the rest of the league. If the Pirates are able to secure the NL Central, McCutchen will very likely take home MVP honors. Still in Contention: Yadier Molina Molina simply does it all for the Red Birds. He is the best defensive catcher in baseball, and throws out nearly 50% of runners that try to steal on him. He bats .315 and has 11 homeruns with 65 RBIs even though he had a stint on the DL earlier this season. It is also very clear to anyone that watches a Cardinals game that he is the heart and soul of a team that has found a way to maintain success despite the departure of Albert Pujols two years ago. Like McCutchen, Molina’s chance to win MVP will increase if the Cards can win the Central. Long Shot: Paul Goldschmidt Goldschmidt is having an incredible year and shows extreme promise to become one of the best first basemen in the bigs, Unfortunately his Diamondbacks aren’t dong so well. The D-Backs are barely over .500, and it is extremely hard to win the MVP on a non-playoff team (just ask Matt Kemp). In the NL, Goldschmidt is second in homeruns with 31, leads in RBIs with 109, and is tied in third with a 6.0 WAR -Langer

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