The end of June approaches, and the Most Valuable Player races are starting to take shape in both leagues. While injuries have shaken up the field in the National League, the American League has remained largely intact. The current odds-on favorite is Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, but there are a few players who would have a case to win the award if the season ended today. This ranking does not factor in future projections; it is based solely on what the players have done so far this season.
5. Shohei Ohtani, LAA
The reigning AL MVP comes in at number five on the MVP ladder this season. Since last season, Shohei Ohtani has taken another step forward on the mound but has not put up the same numbers at the dish. Comparing Ohtani to the field is borderline impossible, but he ranks 20th in the American League with a 132 wRC+ and 14th in the American League with a 75 ERA-. His 2.67 SIERA ranks 2nd in the American League, while his .406 xwOBA ranks 10th. The results have not been quite up to par with last season, but his peripheral numbers would suggest a second half explosion for Ohtani is likely.
4. Mike Trout, LAA
Mike Trout is the best player in baseball, and he has lived up to that title in 2022. His 188 wRC+ ranks second in the American League, and his 3.8 fWAR ranks 4th. He has even taken a step forward defensively this year. After having zero outs above average since 2019, he already has three in 2022. The 30-year-old, three-time MVP has finished top-two in MVP voting seven times in his 12-year career. Do not be surprised if Trout explodes in the second half and wins his fourth MVP despite the Angels falling off once again.
3. Aaron Judge, NYY
It is really tough to rank Aaron Judge this low. He has been the best player on the best team in the majors thus far this season. The most impressive part of Judge’s season has been his seamless transition from right field to center field. He has played over half his defensive innings in center field while playing still playing solid defense. He has 1 OAA in CF and 2 OAA in RF to go along with a 179 wRC+ and -0.8 BsR, good for a 4.0 fWAR. Judge deserved the MVP in 2017, and he is been even better so far in 2022. He is leading the major leagues in home runs with 28 while slugging .638. It is hard to argue against Judge, but there are a couple of guys who have been a tick better.
2. Jose Ramirez, CLE
Jose Ramirez has quietly been one of the best players in baseball for a few years now. Like Judge, he was robbed of an MVP earlier on in his career. He has been the most valuable player in baseball since 2019 per FanGraphs’ WAR calculation, as he slightly edges out Mike Trout with 17.1 fWAR. This season, Ramirez has slashed .300/.387/.613 with a .418 wOBA and 178 wRC+ at the plate. He has -1 OAA at third base and has kept up his elite baserunning, creating 2.6 runs on the basepaths. All this has cumulated in a 3.9 fWAR which ranks third in the American League. His case is helped by the Cleveland Guardians being a pleasant surprise, as they currently hold a playoff spot despite their low expectations and bottom-five payroll.
1. Rafael Devers, BOS
The Boston Red Sox started the season 10-19. Their fans were booing them out of the stadium and calling for the team to be blown up at the deadline. Since then, the club is 32-13 and has shot right back up into the upper echelon of the American League. Leading that charge has been their young superstar third baseman, Rafael Devers. On May 5, Devers had just a 109 wRC+ and 0.6 fWAR. Since then, he is easily been the best player in the American League, slashing .363/.437/.692 with a 213 wRC+ and 3.7 fWAR. His 176 wRC+ ranks 5th in the AL, but his 4.2 fWAR leads the league. He has been only slightly below average defensively and elite on the basepaths, resulting in -1 OAA and 2.6 BsR. Overall, he has been the most valuable player in the American League and he’s led the Red Sox on an incredible hot streak.
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