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#pounditFriday, February 23, 2024

10 Most deserving MLB MVP candidates

Giancarlo Stanton

Few awards in sports spark more arguments than Most Valuable Player. What is the definition of “valuable?” Can a pitcher win it? Do you have to lead your team to the playoffs to be serious considered? How much do defense, baserunning, and other variables matter when it comes to baseball. There’s still no good answer to these questions — it’s all in the eye of the beholder, or in this case, the voter.

Even though we don’t know whom the voters will favor, we can predict which players will be serious candidates to win the award in both the American and National League. Here are five players from each who have a chance of taking home the awards come season’s end.

American League

5) Jonathan Schoop, Orioles

Schoop isn’t getting a lot of publicity right now, but he’ll probably get some votes in the AL MVP race. The Orioles second baseman has posted a very strong season, hitting over .300 with 31 home runs and 102 RBIs. He’s been Baltimore’s best player, and an integral part of pulling them back into the wild-card race. If Baltimore can make the playoffs, Schoop may get even more attention.

4) Aaron Judge, Yankees

Judge might have topped this list around the time of the All-Star break, but a poor second half has severely diminished the Yankee outfielder’s case. He still has 38 home runs, but his batting average has dropped to .277. He has struggled so much that managed Joe Girardi has given him a few mental days off. Working in his favor is the fact that the Yankees haven’t quite been the same since he began to struggle, which oddly could make people realize just how valuable he is. Judge could still bolster his candidacy with a strong finish to 2017.

3) Chris Sale, Red Sox

Whether a pitcher should be a serious candidate for MVP is a debate that has raged and will continue to rage in baseball circles. But for those who see no problem with it, Sale will likely feature on a lot of ballots. The lefty has been everything the Red Sox could have hoped for after acquiring him, comfortably leading baseball in strikeouts (270) and innings pitched (189.2). That’s a lot of innings already, and the vast majority of them have been extremely high quality.

2) Mike Trout, Angels

Trout has been a fixture in the AL MVP race since 2012, and this year will be no different. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that he’s having his best season yet. His .324 average, .463 OBP, and .652 slugging percentage would all be career bests, and he’s well on his way to 30 home runs again. What may ultimately hold Trout’s MVP case back is the month’s worth of action that he missed due to a mid-season thumb surgery. The injury suppressed Trout’s home run and RBI totals and limited him to 93 games, while his MVP rivals have played more than that. If not for that, Trout could well be atop this list.

1) Jose Altuve, Astros

The Astros second baseman has to be considered a heavy favorite to take home the award at this point. Part of Altuve winning MVP may be something of a lifetime achievement award; he’s been one of baseball’s best players for the last four years but only once has he landed in the top three of MVP voting. The biggest reason, though, is that he’s simply amazing. Altuve offers something for everyone. The stat geeks will love that he’s first in the league in WAR, while the more old-school folks will love that he’s well on his way to another batting title. That, plus another season of pacing the league in hits — he already has 20 home runs — he steals bases, he plays solid defense, and he’s at the heart and soul of one of baseball’s very best teams, means he’d be a very deserving MVP.

See the National League candidates on Page 2

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