A new baseball season is dawning, and, after the long lockout, fans are more than ready to dive into baseball. At least the fans who still care, as the lockout may have caused some apathy among even some of its most ardent supporters. Yet, the season is upon us, and the race for October begins this week across the country. Let the debates between MLB fans begin.
One of the topics that will no doubt be debated is just who will win the American League Most Valuable Player award. This is always one of the more interesting topics to debate and there is no lack of opinions among fans. After all, baseball, perhaps more than any other sport, is all about production, and which individual players outperform the rest. So, the MVP award is one of those that can really stir emotions among avid fans. With that in mind, we present our top five candidates for the 2022 AL MVP award.
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
Yes, this is a no-brainer based on Ohtani"s performance in 2021. Only fans who spent the season without watching a single MLB game are not aware of what Ohtani did last season. All he did was compile a slash line of .257/.372/.592, with 46 home runs and 100 RBIs. He recorded an OPS+ of 158. and also managed to steal 26 bases. Ohtani made the All-Star team, won a Silver Slugger award, and also captured the AL MVP in 2021.
But wait, there"s more. While Ohtani had an outstanding season at the plate, he also did his fair share of pitching. On the mound, he pitched a total of 130 1/3 innings for the Halos. he posted an earned run average of 3.18, with a WHIP of 1.09. He put together a K.BB ratio of 3.55, and a K/9 innings of 10.8. Ohtani also had a won/loss record of 9-2, pitching for a team that was never in playoff contention. If he stays healthy, he will be a formidable candidate to repeat as MVP in 2022.
Vladimir Guererro, Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
Guererro was runner-up to Ohtani in last year"s MVP balloting. He put up some staggering offensive numbers, as he compiled a slash line of .311/.401/.601. Guererro produced an OPS+ of 169, won a Silver Slugger award, and appeared in the All-Star game. He led the AL in these five offensive categories: runs scored, home runs, OBP, slugging percentage, and total bases. Nobody in all of baseball scored more runs, hit more home runs, or had more total bases than Vladimir Guererro, Jr. Unless the Bluejays have an epic fail, Guererro will once again be in the MVP discussion.
Carlos Correa, Minnesota Twins
Yes, that says Minnesota Twins, not Hoston Astros, you read that correctly. Correa signed a three-year deal with the Twins that will pay him just over $105 million. He is a premier shortstop, who many regard as the top shortstop in the game today. He left the Astros in a move that surprised fans all across the baseball landscape. In his seven seasons in Houston, Correa slashed .277/.356/.481. In 2021, he hit .279 with 26 home runs and 92 RBIs, and also won a Gold Glove. Correa is definitely a player to watch, as he is quite capable of making a run at an MVP title in 2021.
Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
Some may be surprised that we consider Rafael Devers to be MVP material. Yet, in looking at his last two full seasons, he has put together excellent numbers. In the 2019 and 2021 seasons, Devers averaged 35 home runs and 114 RBIs. He has also produced an OPS+ of 132, won a Silver Slugger, and went to the All-Star Game in 2021. The hard-hitting lefthanded bat has a swing that plays well in Fenway Park, with his ability to use the whole park. Devers is 25 years old, and we are looking for him to put together a monster season in 2022.
Luis Robert, Chicago White Sox
If Devers is a surprise candidate, then Luis Robert is the dark horse in this race. After all, he has played all of 124 games in his young career and is still learning the ropes of MLB ball. Yet, in his short time, he has slashed .294/.345/.512, and he also won a Gold Glove in 2020. He has also shown the ability to steal bases, and could potentially steal 30 or more. He overcame a serious injury in 2021 and came back to finish the season strong. Robert is a true five-tool player with an extremely high ceiling. Fans should not be surprised if he breaks out in a big way and makes a serious push for the MVP in 2022.
Fans may have noticed one notable name missing from our list, that being Mike Trout. The reason he has been excluded is based on our belief that a league MVP cannot be the second most valuable player on his own team. As long as Ohtani continues to perform on a high level, he will be more valuable than Trout. So, we have excluded Trout from consideration for AL MVP.
So, without further ado, here is our prediction for AL MVP for 2022. After much consideration, we predict that Luis Robert will have a breakthrough season, helping to carry the White Sox into the playoffs, and will be the AL MVP. Everybody loves an underdog, and Robert certainly fits that role among these star players. Yet, we predict that 2022 is the year that Luis Robert puts it all together and comes away with the American League MVP award. Let the debate begin.
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