For the past four seasons the American League MVP award hasn’t included much debate. Last season, Josh Donaldson ran away with the award, receiving 92% of the max votes. From 2012-2014, there were only two names associated with the AL MVP award, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout. Cabrera won the Triple Crown in 2012, going on to win back-to-back MVPs in 2012-13 while Trout won his first award in 2014.
This season, the AL MVP race is a multi-person race and features new names. Houston Astros’ 2B Jose Altuve and Boston Red Sox CF Mookie Betts join former MVP Mike Trout and reigning MVP Josh Donaldson in this year’s race. Let’s take a look at each player’s stats at this point of the season.
Altuve is probably the leader at this point. The 5’5” second baseman leads the Major Leagues in hits and batting average, second in OBP (trails Joey Votto by .02), second in WAR (6.9 to Trout’s 7.2) along with his 26 stolen bases (6th in MLB). Donaldson has the power numbers but has the lowest average of the four. Trout is putting up his usual fantastic numbers, but is severely behind in the hits column to Altuve and Betts.
Out of the four contenders, Betts and Donaldson are the only two players on playoff teams right now. Donaldson’s Blue Jays (67-51) are slightly ahead of the Orioles (66-51) and Betts’ Red Sox (64-52) in the American League East. The Red Sox are in second place in the Wild Card, with Altuve’s Astros four games behind with a 61-57 record. The Angels are in the middle of their worst season under the Mike Scioscia era with a 49-68 record (.419 W%). Even though Trout is probably the reason their record isn’t worse than it currently is, but his team’s record doesn’t help his cause, especially with the other three in the midst of a playoff race.
Betts definitely has the numbers to back up his MVP case. In addition to the stats posted above, Betts is tied for second in doubles (34), third in runs (91), fourth in slugging (.561), fourth in triples (5), fifth in WAR (6.1), and first in at-bats (492). Betts has been extremely reliable for John Farrell, playing in all but 48 innings this season.
As we enter the final 50 games of the season, both the playoff and award races will get tighter. The AL MVP race will be fun for the first time in a couple of years as this year’s race includes young and exciting players in Altuve and Betts. Betts, 23, is hoping to become the youngest Red Sox MVP since Fred Lynn in 1975. Betts has more work to do as he hopes to lead the Red Sox to the AL East crown as well as bringing the AL MVP award back to Boston for the first time since 2008.