Mike Trout vs The Field
Predicting MVP races for any sport are generally useless until around midseason. For baseball, you can basically pencil Mike Trout into the vote every year. He’s a 7 time All-Star with only 8 seasons of play. He’s won Rookie of the Year and 2 AL MVP’s already. In his 8 year career he has 231 Home Runs, 186 Stolen Bases, career .306, .415, .571 slashing lines for BA, OBP, and SLG%, and has amassed 61.9 WAR points. Needless to say, Trout has been in the conversation this year and considered to be the front-runner. Recently though, Trout has been dealing with injuries and hasn’t played since 8/1.
If expected to miss significant time, the race for the MVP becomes wide open. Many would argue that Trout shouldn’t be the front-runner. Maybe I’m biased towards my fantasy team but this year he leads the AL in On-Base Percentage with the help of 30 (4th) home runs and 99 walks (1st), while also stealing 21 bases (6th). However, the more he doesn’t play the better chances other players have to win the award. In my mind, there are only 2 other players worthy of AL MVP, Mookie Betts and Jose Ramirez.
Mookie Betts is one of my favorite baseball players because he already has an all-time name to go along with his play. Mookie is a baseball name if I’ve ever heard one and I love it! Besides his birthright to baseball royalty, this season has been especially brilliant for the 5’9” Righty out of Tennessee.
5 years into his career and one can see the similarities to Mike Trout. He’s a 3 time all-star, 2 time Gold Glove, and has 1 Silver Slugger award to boot. He has 31.4 WAR points through his first 5 years (Trout had 37). He’s one of the best all around players on the field the past couple seasons and he’s highlighted this year by posting MVP caliber numbers.
The main reason I had Mookie behind Trout was because he missed significant time earlier this season missing 13 games due to injury. Yet, through 93 games played, he has managed to post 26 HR (8th), 21 SB (6th), Scored 89 Runs (2nd), while hitting .342 BA (1st), .428 OBP (2nd), and .652 SLG% (1st). The final stat that is undeniable is Mookie Betts is the best player on the best team in baseball. The Red Sox are 79-34 and Mookie is a big part of their success.
Mookie may have the name and the team to win the MVP, but another candidate has emerged this year as a serious threat to both Trout and Betts. That player is Jose Ramirez. Though his career doesn’t feature the same accolades as the previous 2, the 2nd runner-up in last year’s AL MVP vote and Silver Slugger has built upon the success of his previous 2 seasons to post the best season to date.
Since 2016, Ramirez has posted double-digit seasons in HRs and SBs totaling 73 HR’s and 65 SB’s, while averaging a .310 BA. This season, Ramirez’s batting line is astonishing. 33 HR’s (1st), 26 SB’s (1st), 83 RBI’s (3rd), 78 Runs (5th), while hitting .300 BA (11th), .410 OBP (3rd), .629 SLG% (3rd). Looking at these numbers it’s no wonder he has a higher WAR (7.4) than Mookie (7.1) and is right up there with Trout (7.8). He’s been remarkable all season and is on pace to have 40+ HR’s and 30+ SB’s on the season while hitting over .300.
Ramirez has improved every year up he’s been in the MLB and might be hitting the momentum to capitalize on the trajectory of his career right now. Mookie Betts has been great for a few years and it may be his time in the sun as this year is all about the Red Sox. However impressive both guys have been all year, Trout still remains very much the standard of the AL. If he can get back and not miss too much time then a 3 way MVP race to finish off the season will be a race for the ages. Will you be following?
Ramirez, Betts, and Trout. May the best man win.
*All stats were found on MLB.com and Baseball-Reference.com