It may be hard to believe, but the end of the regular season is just around the corner. With that ending in about 2 weeks, everyone is talking about the AL MVP race. Obviously Mike Trout is the name that pops into everyone’s head. Trout has been the runner-up or the winner of the AL MVP 6 of the 8 years he’s played in the MLB. The three-time MVP won the award in 2014, 2016, and 2019, and finished second in 2012, 2013, 2015, and 2018. This means that Trout was an MVP-caliber player every full season he played except for one – honestly insane!
The question now is can/will Mike Trout win his fourth MVP despite his team missing the playoffs in what’s considered the easiest year for postseason play in MLB history? Mike Trout and the Angels have missed the playoffs rather consistently, but that hasn’t stopped Trout from walking away with the MVP trophy.
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m about ready to watch someone else win the AL MVP this season, and if there has ever been a season to push away Mike Trout, it’s this one. With the shortened season and limited at-bats, Trout doesn’t seem to be running away with the race like in years past.
I’m going to take a look at Mike Trout’s very slight fall from grace and offer five other options for this year’s AL MVP race.
Mike Trout (LA Angels)
.295/.403/.639, 16 HR, 39 RBI, 2.3 WAR
Mike Trout may still be the favorite to win the AL MVP but that doesn’t mean he’s a sure fire win. First, Trout’s numbers are usually above and beyond most other AL players, but this year’s numbers are closer than Mike Trout has allowed before. Mike Trout has way less games this season to pull away from his competition, meaning his WAR numbers are closer and therefore less impressive. Since the Angels are almost certainly missing the playoffs, Trout’s MVP run needs to rely solely on his individual numbers, which simply don’t compare to his above and beyond numbers in years past. Not only does Trout have a lower WAR than some of his competition, he also is falling behind on batting average, RBI’s, and Home Runs.
Ultimately, it looks like Trout isn’t running away in either the offensive or defensive category. Normally, Trout is a solid defensive player and this pushes him ahead in MVP talks, but this year has been a struggle for Trout in center field. In 2019, a winning year for Trout, he had a DRS of -2 and a POS rank at 2o. In 202o, Trout has a DRS of -12 and a POS rank of 35. Mike Trout simply isn’t having the year he needs to win MVP especially considering the Angels are all but completely out of the playoffs.
If not Mike Trout….who?
I’m going to suggest five different AL MVP candidates who could potentially steal the trophy from Trout in 2020.
Nelson Cruz (Twins)
.323/.414/.646, 16 HR, 32 RBI, 2.0 WAR
Cruz has always been a home run hitter, but this year he is absolutely bashing the ball, finding himself with the second-most home runs in the league and the most home runs on a rather home run happy team. Cruz has basically lead his team to where they are offensively right now; he leads the team in almost every offensive metric. Leading a team like the Twins is more impressive than leading a team like the Angels because, well to be frank, the Angels suck and the Twins are a pretty damn good ball team. Cruz isn’t just stacking up against players on his own team, his stat line compared to other MVP caliber players is impressive too. He is top five in important stat categories including batting average, home runs, RBI, on base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. The only thing holding Cruz back in my opinion is the fact that he plays no defensive but with his offensive stats the way they are it isn’t impossible.
Fun Fact: Cruz is a DH and 40 years old, meaning a win for him would make history with him becoming the first DH to win MVP and the first player over 40.
Jose Abreu (White Sox)
.328/.370/.621, 15 HR, 48 RBI, 2.1 WAR
The White Sox have a lot of young blood on this year’s team, but 33-year-old veteran Abreu has been their star player by far. The first thing to mention about Abreu is his 22-game hit streak this season. Abreu’s practically picked up the team and put it on his shoulders with an out-of-this-world line of .370/.414/ .772, 10 home runs, and 28 RBI’s. Abreu’s hot streak helped the Sox come out with a 17-5 record, which gave them a solid hold on first place in the division. With the White Sox and Abreu both gearing up for their first postseason run in a long time, it makes sense to look at the guy leading the team both mentally and physically as an MVP prospect. Abreu is an all around package, making him an even more realistic candidate for the MVP trophy. Jose in ranked first in his position currently and has a DRS of 6, making him one of the best first baseman of the 2020 season.
Tim Anderson (White Sox)
.377/.414/.605, 8 HR, 19 RBI, 2.4 WAR
It’s kinda crazy to think that there are two White Sox players in the running for MVP, considering the team hasn’t done anything in almost 10 years, but that’s 2020. Anyway, Anderson’s stats easily match up to any of the players we will talk about today. He’s without a doubt had an all around impact on this unbelievable White Sox team that is, in my opinion, a threat to win the World Series. Tim Anderson leads MVP candidates, as well as, the entire league with his nearly .400 batting average and WAR making him more of the most productive players in the league. Anderson may not have many RBI’s but as a lead off batter he is constantly getting on base to get his team going. Anderson also might be lacking in the home run category, but easily makes up for it with excessive multi-hit games and walks. Tim Anderson has shown great improvement this season defensively as well making plays look smooth and easy compared to last year.
The biggest thing to take into account with Anderson is his ability to motivate the team and help them produce. With Anderso,n the White Sox team is offensively sound, but without him, they just can’t seem it get things going. During a 6 game streak without the shortstop, the White Sox barely scored 10 runs, showing the deep impact Anderson has on the squad. Just like Abreu, Anderson has taken a team with little hope and helped elevate them to a post season ready team showing his true impact is deeper than numbers.
Luke Voit (Yankees)
.280/.343/.634, 18 HR, 42 RBI, 1.5 WAR
Luke Voit has been the one consistent player that the Yankees have counted on during the 2020 season. Despite “foot stuff”, Luke has gone on a offensive tear, leading the league in home runs with 18 and second in RBIs. Without Luke, the Yankees might not even be in a playoff run, considering the constantly injuries that plagued the team. Voit took the team and very literally carried it though a horrible stretch during which he was the only one producing. Voit has really only been a productive player for two years after the Yankees took him from the Cardinals, who had given up on his ability. It’s pretty impressive that a player like that could be holding his own statistically with the other players I’ve mentioned. With his league leading home runs, his MVP comparable numbers, and his invaluable position on the Yankees, Luke is a clear contender for his first AL MVP.
Shane Bieber (Indians)
7-1, 64 2/3 IP, 1.53 ERA, 102K, 2.9 WAR
I normally don’t like to bring pitchers into the MVP conversation because they have the Cy Young, but Bieber is the exception to that rule in every way. Bieber has been Cleveland’s best and most successful player, not just pitcher, this season. Despite having player like Lindor on the team, Bieber has been able to easily outshine everyone. Bieber leads the league in strikeout to walk ratio and has the best ERA in the AL. He’s put up a quality line every single one of his ten starts this season, averaging seven inning a game (unheard of for Yankee fans). Bieber is even more impressive this season because of the weird circumstances. Despite having to start up quickly, which lead to many injuries around the league, Bieber has had no issues, giving up just 5 runs in his first 40 innings. Bieber is absolutely the reason the Indians are in the position they are in right now.