Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox took home MVP honors last season and while having a solid season, is far off the pace from a year ago.
With baseballs flying out of the ballpark at record rates, there are several players having seasons worthy of MVP consideration. Not to overlook pitchers, because they have in the past won the award, but it would take a very special season to win Cy Young Award and MVP honors.
The last pitcher to earn the award was Clayton Kershaw in 2014. The last American League pitcher to earn MVP was Justin Verlander in 2011. Let’s take a look at the top candidates for AL MVP.
Mike Trout – Los Angeles Angels
The best overall player in MLB, Trout has won the MVP award twice and have never finished out of the top four in the MVP vote during his career.
Trout leads the league in home runs with 44, walks with 108, as well as on base percentage, slugging percentage and OPS. He is just three home runs shy of Troy Glaus’ team record of 47 in 2000 and could reach the 50-home run plateau.
The Angels are near the bottom of the league in win-loss record, which generally doesn’t bode well for an MVP candidate. However, it’s difficult to overlook Trout’s gaudy numbers this season.
Rafael Devers – Boston Red Sox
The 22-year old Devers has made steady improvements since his rookie campaign in 2017 in which he hit .284 with 10 home runs in 93 games.
After a 21 home run, 66 RBI season with a .240 average last season, Devers has exploded onto the scene. His 48 doubles, 177 hits and 107 RBI leads the American League and has 29 home runs.
Devers production has been a big reason the Red Sox rank third in the league In runs scored. Boston is unlikely to make the post season, but Devers is worth of MVP consideration, although Trout it clearly in a class by himself
Xander Bogaerts – Boston Red Sox
Bogaerts completes the most productive shortstop/third base combination in the Major Leagues.
Ranked 13th in MVP balloting last season, Boegarts had 45 doubles, 23 home runs and 103 RBI in 2018. Upping his game this season, Boegarts leads the league in doubles with 48, has 31 home runs, 103 RBI, 102 runs scored and a .310 average, all among the league-leaders.
Perhaps underappreciated outside of Boston, Bogaerts is a key component to the potent Red Sox attack and should earn more MVP votes than last season, landing in the top five.
DJ LeMahieu – New York Yankees
The Bronx Bombers are ranked second in runs scored and home runs with eleven players in double-digits in home runs.
One of the most unlikely candidates on the team for MVP consideration, LeMahieu has put together his best season in his first with the Yankees. He earned some NL MVP consideration in 2016 when he hit .348 for the Rockies.
This year, LeMahieu leads the AL with a .331 average, 24 home runs and 90 RBI, both career bests. With the Yankees having a good shot to go all the way, LeMahieu may earn additional MVP consideration.
Carlos Santana – Cleveland Indians
Santana spent his first eight seasons with the Indians before a single season in the NL with the Philadelphia Phillies.
Although walking 110 times last season with 24 home runs, Santana hit just .229 and never found his stride. Oh, home sweet home for Santana, who is having perhaps his best overall season. Santana has belted 32 home runs with 84 RBI and 98 bases on balls.
Earning 15th place in the AL MVP balloting in 2013, Santana is likely to earn additional consideration this season particularly because the Indians are in position for a deep playoff run.
In short, there are a significant number of players putting up career numbers in this age of enormous offense around baseball.
None of the players match the production of Trout, who at age 28 is already an eight-time All-Star who is the all-time career leader in slugging percentage and OPS.
He will easily earn his third AL MVP to tied for second most in MLB history. Should he stay healthy, Trout could challenge Barry Bonds record of seven career MVP awards.