By Wade Haugen
With Aaron Judge’s Home Run Derby hangover continuing into the dog days of summer, the door has opened for other potential suitors to enter the conversation for MVP in the American League.
Jose Altuve, 2B, Houston Astros
Stat Line: .362/.422/.569, 19 home runs, 67 RBIs
At only 5 feet 6 inches tall, Jose Altuve is far and away the shortest player in the Major Leagues. In his case, size does not matter. Altuve not only hits for average and reaches base consistently, but he also has sneaky pop in his bat, as seen by his 19 home runs so far this season. Consistently known around the league as one of the toughest guys to punch out, Altuve has struck out only 65 times this season. In comparison, Aaron Judge has struck out 167 times. Rounding out his stats, Altuve has swiped 29 bags this season, reiterating his reputation as an all-around player.
Aaron Judge, RF, New York Yankees
Stat Line: .282/.413/.593, 37 home runs, 80 RBIs
The talk of the Bronx for much of the summer, Judge has simmered down as the temperature has risen. The post All-Star break dog days of summer have taken their toll on Judge, the Yankees young star, however, his numbers are still very productive. Judge has displayed excellent plate discipline all season to the tune of 90 walks to this point. His biggest kryptonite is his strikeout numbers, which have soared since the All-Star break. However, when he puts the ball in play, good things typically happen.
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Stat Line: .333/.457/.688
Take away a thumb injury that sidelined him 39 games, and Mike Trout would likely be at the top of this list. Trout, an Angels’ star outfielder, has produced great numbers this season, but with having played only 79 games, his production doesn’t stack up as well against the other two candidates. Trout’s combination of power and speed is something unforeseen in today’s game. Mix that with his ability to get on base (.457 OBP) and it’s clear that, although his numbers don’t match up because of the injury, Trout deserves to be on this list.
With Bryce Harper sidelined for the foreseeable future with a knee injury and Giancarlo Stanton sending balls into orbit nightly, the race is on for the National League MVP as the season begins to wind down.
Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Stat Line: .317/.428/.592
Often forgotten out in the desert because of his team’s irrelevancy, this summer has brought Paul Goldschmidt back into the limelight. With the Diamondbacks fighting for a NL wild card spot, Goldschmidt has gotten the attention he deserves. Both offensively and defensively, Goldschmidt has been great for Arizona all season, combining a high average (.317) to go along with 29 long balls. Goldschmidt, who isn’t exactly small at 6 feet 3 inches and 225 pounds, has even stolen 16 bags this season.
Giancarlo Stanton, OF, Miami Marlins
Stat Line: .286/.382/.644, 45 home runs, 97 RBI’s
Although his average and on-base percentage doesn’t jump off the page, Stanton’s 45 home runs and .644 slugging percentage on the season does. The Marlins are less than stellar this season, which will hurt Stanton, but he’s doing his part. Stanton has surged into the MVP race to the tone of a .327 average, 15 home runs and 33 RBIs in the past month. He also consistently displays a strong arm in the outfield.
Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
Stat Line: .315/.447/.595, 32 home runs, 87 RBI’s
Much like Paul Goldschmidt in Arizona, Joey Votto often gets overlooked because of the Reds’ overall deficiencies. However, his numbers are too strong to ignore this season. Votto has always been known for drawing walks (101 on the season) and hitting for a high average. This year, he has added power to that mix, adding 32 long balls to his stat line. Votto has also struck out only 65 times in 125 games. Last but not least, he’s arguably the best defensive first baseman in the league.