Award season is kicking off and we have no shortage of tight races. With the exception of the NL Rookie of the Year, there is not exactly a runaway in any category this season. 2019 will see these races go down to the wire and will spark numerous debates among fans, especially with the AL MVP.
The AL MVP race has been an exciting race all season long. Many star players could be considered this season with all the talent in the American League. It was another strong season from defending champion Mookie Betts and players like DJ LeMahieu and Jorge Polanco were great this season. Pitchers sometimes even can find themselves in the MVP conversation and would not have been shocking to see Justin Verlander or Gerritt Cole be candidates.
Yet there can only be one winner and even with the amount of players having great success in 2019, there are only three finalists remaining. Angels’ Mike Trout, Astros’ Alex Bregman, and Athletics’ Marcus Semien are officially your finalists for the AL MVP award. All three players were splendid in 2019 and are all worthy adversaries for the award. With only one winner, let’s take a look at the finalists.
Looking at the stats in the 2019 season, the favorite has to be Mike Trout. Trout, as always, is a perennial contender and 2019 is no different. There is absolutely no doubt that Trout is one of the most talented players in the game and the 2019 season backed that claim up. He hit .291 this season with a massive 45 HR and 104 RBI. Trout also led the American League in OPS with a whopping 1.083 and OPS+ of 185 and posted a WAR of 8.3. Trout absolutely has the stats to back up a third MVP in his career.
However, what hurts the argument for Mike Trout is the success his team had. The Angels once again missed the playoffs, posting a paltry 72-90. Trout did his part, but the team success was not there this season. Some voters look at overall team success and Trout could be penalized for his team not performing well.
Still, this is a Most Valuable Player award and Trout is incredibly valuable, despite team success. Trout is a once-in-a-generation player and has earned the respect of every MLB fan. Although team success has generally been elusive in Trout’s career, he does everything he can on an individual level. With the award set to be announced next week, it is safe to consider Trout the favorite with his very strong season.
However, Mike Trout by no means has this in the bag. In fact, there is a good chance that Alex Bregman can take home this award. In just his fourth season, Bregman has established himself as a star in the MLB. Last season, he placed fifth in the MVP voting and this year will see a far better result.
Bregman, unlike Trout, did enjoy team success this season. The Astros went 107-55 this season and Bregman was a key cog in his overall team’s success, as he hit .296 with 41 HR and 112 RBI. Bregman also posted a very high 1.015 OPS and led the American League in walks with 119. Bregman also by the narrowest of margins led the American League in WAR at 8.4, which is 0.1 higher than Mike Trout.
Statistics carry much weight among baseball pundits and is a fun debate when players are so close to each other. Trout may the favorite, but Bregman absolutely is not making this unanimous for Trout. In fact, when you factor in the success of both him and the team he plays on, it is very possible we see Bregman come home with the hardware.
The Dark Horse:
Finally, there is still one finalist who has an outside shot. Marcus Semien of the Athletics is a finalist for the AL MVP as well, coming out of nowhere. Semien was not even named an all-star this season, but a second half surge has him surprisingly in the conversation. Semien turned a corner this season and has his name in the conversation for top shortstop in the MLB.
So how did Semien become a finalist? Well the stats tell the story. He was sensation in Oakland, hitting .285 with 33 HR and 92 RBI. To go with those strong stats, he posted an OPS of .892, an OPS+ of 138, and a shocking WAR of 8.1. Arguably the most impressive thing Semien did in 2019 was play in all 162 games. Every single day, Semien made his presence known on the diamond. On a 97-65 team, he was a key factor as to why they earned a wild card berth. The amount of games played could be the propellant for his MVP case.
While Semien may not hold the flashy stats Trout and Bregman hold, it does not make his candidacy any less legitimate. While he is not likely to win, it is important to emphasize how much success Semien enjoyed in 2019 to go along with the Athletics reach the postseason. Add the fact he was out there for every single game, Semien deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as Trout and Bregman.
So who takes home the hardware on Thursday? Will Trout bring home MVP number three or will one of the other two finalists take it from him? The staff at Overtime Heroics put in their ballots. The staff voted for Mike Trout to win his third MVP. Bregman took a couple of second place votes, but was unable to win the award in the minds of our staff.
Author Twitter: @coffeekyng
Come discuss this and much more at the Overtime Heroics forums!
Check out our Overtime Heroics merch store!