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Who is the AL MVP?

Mike Trout MVP

All stats accurate as of 9/16.

It’s that time of year again. MVP conversations are raging around the league as players try to set themselves apart. But with monstrous, historic seasons turned in by multiple players in the American League, it is hard to pick just one. Let’s take a case-by-case look at each contender for the AL MVP.

Alex Bregman

Alex Bregman has carried the Houston Astros (Houston Chronicle).

The former second overall pick in the 2015 MLB Draft has been on a tear this year. He has posted absurd numbers, culminating in a 163 OPS+. He has hit 30 home runs to go along with his 100 RBIs. Bregman has also scored 100 runs this season, proving to be an elite run producer.

But Bregman is far more than just a run producer. His .295/.398/.553 slash line is elite, with Bregman getting on base at an astonishing rate. Factor that in with his league-leading 50 doubles, and you have a dangerous player.

Bregman has carried the Houston Astros throughout the season. With injuries to Carlos Correa, George Springer and Jose Altuve, Bregman has been the constant. He has helped fuel the Astros playoff push throughout the season, and has put himself right in the thick of the AL MVP conversation.

Jose Ramirez

We go from one-third baseman to a former third baseman. You would think that an AL MVP candidate would be able to stay at one position all season. But that does not apply to Jose Ramirez. After the Cleveland Indians acquired former AL MVP Josh Donaldson from the Blue Jays, Ramirez made the switch to second base. And that could be the defining factor in his AL MVP candidacy.

Position change or not, Jose Ramirez was going to be in the AL MVP discussion. Ramirez is an exceptional power-speed threat, with 38 home runs and 32 stolen bases. He is also hitting .282/.396/.578 on the season, proving to be the total package at the plate.

Ramirez has also driven in 101 RBIs and scored 101 runs, guaranteeing his team at least one run per game. He has a 157 OPS+ and an absurd 7.8 WAR. But what could be the defining factor in voter’s minds is the position change.

To accept a move from third base to second base in the middle of an MVP season proves that Ramirez values his team over himself. And that, coupled with his absurd numbers, could push him over the top.

Mookie Betts

Mookie Betts has been in J.D. Martinez’ shadow all season long (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As one of the best players on the best team in baseball, Mookie Betts would get AL MVP consideration regardless. But when you factor in the amazing season he is having, it’s no surprise he is among most AL MVP predictions.

Betts leads the majors with a whopping 10.0 WAR this season, all while leading the league in hitting with a .338 batting average. But even at five feet eight inches tall, Betts doesn’t play a small man’s game. He can crush with the best of them, evident by his 29 home runs and .629 slugging percentage. Betts has also stolen 28 bases and scored 118 runs this season.

Given J.D. Martinez’ Triple Crown chase, some may overlook Betts. But he has been the driving force behind Boston’s 102 wins, all while becoming one of the best players in baseball. He has also been stellar in the field with 20 defensive runs saved in the Red Sox outfield. But even stellar defense and a 181 OPS+ may not be enough to push him past another AL outfielder.

Mike Trout

While Mookie Betts is one of the best outfielders in baseball, Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. Period. After six seasons of finishing in the top five in AL MVP voting and winning the award two times, Trout has still found a way to outdo himself. He is having the best season of his career.

Trout has posted video game-type numbers throughout his career, but he has brought his game to a whole other level this season. While he may not lead the league in any of the traditional counting stats, he has still slugged 34 home runs and stolen 23 bases this season. He has scored 94 runs in 129 games, and leads the league in on-base-percentage with an other-worldly .466.

When you put all of that together, you get a player with a 198 OPS+. Just think how impressive that is. With 100 OPS+ being average, Trout is basically doubling what the major league standard is. That is the highest OPS+ Trout has ever posted in a single season.

But with only 129 games played this season, Trout may not have enough playing time to convince voters to give him the nod. But if we were to go strictly by the numbers, Mike Trout is the AL MVP. And to be honest, it’s not really close.

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