Fall ball is upon us, and the final push for regular season league MVP is here. The National League contest looks to be a one-man race. The American League remains heavily debated and could very well come down to the final week’s performances.
Mike Trout, outfield, Los Angeles Angels: .318, 29 home runs, 98 RBIs
An argument could be made that, given Trout and Mookie Betts’ numbers, a coin flip could fairly determine which player should be named the American League’s MVP. Those people would also be overlooking a marginal discrepancy in a key stat line. Trout’s on-base percentage trumps Betts’ by 72 points. This means that over the course of the season, Trout has been 20 percent more likely than Betts to reach base. Putting runners in play and batting them around is vital for winning games, and nobody has done a better job of this than Trout.
Mookie Betts, outfield, Boston Red Sox: .321, 31 home runs, 109 RBIs
Mookie Betts is still making strides in the AL MVP contest. He leads Trout in a few noteworthy statistic categories, including home runs, hit and batting average. Betts has also been regarded the better defensive player. Betts has also managed to pull away from Altuve in terms of WAR (9.0 to Altuve’s 7.5). Betts is also fielding for a playoff team, which bodes well for his MVP résumé. In many cases, this would be an advantage, but with a teammate like David Ortiz, one can’t help but wonder if his success could be hampering the likes of Betts in the race.
Jose Altuve, second base, Houston Astros: .338, 24 home runs, 95 RBIs
Altuve is maintaining an impressive, league-leading batting average, but voters may not be convinced with that alone. He’s one of 15 players in history to get three seasons with 200 hits and accomplished it before the age of 26. While Altuve has performed well and kept the Astros in wild card contention, his WAR is the lowest among Trout and Betts. It would take a tremendous week for him to catch his competition.
Kris Bryant, third base, Chicago Cubs: .295, 39 home runs, 101 RBIs
It’s a foregone conclusion the 2016 NL MVP will go to Bryant. This week as the Cubs claimed their 100th win of the season, Bryant delivered a two-run home run. He broke his previous RBI record of 99, as his team clinched the NL Central. Bryant is second, only to Rockies’ Nolan Arenado, in home runs, and is leading the league in runs scored. There’s no denying that Bryant’s first two seasons in the big leagues have been impressive. It would be equally difficult to deny him the NL MVP award.
Daniel Murphy, second base, Washington Nationals: .347, 25 home runs, 104 RBI
This week, the National League has been narrowed down to only two finalists. The argument for Bryant is too strong to justify throwing in other names. Even including Murphy is a bit of a stretch at this point. An injury has taken Murphy out of the lineup for six games now. His numbers are strong (.347/.391/.987), but arguably will not be enough to surpass the likes of Bryant. Given the extent of his injury, Murphy’s MVP campaign could be cut short due to the improbability of playing until postseason games begin.