Who should win AL MVP?

What a season it has been. We have seen many records broken, such as the Indians win streak of 22 games, Aaron Judge’s most consecutive games with a strikeout, and Albert Pujols joining the 600 homer run club. With the end of every season though, come the season awards. This is where I propose the question, Who is the American League MVP? The top three candidates are Mike Trout, Aaron Judge, and Jose Altuve; But don’t count out Jose Ramirez and Andrelton Simmons. The race is tight and could come down to the last day. So who wins?

The Frontrunners:

Aaron Judge:

Judge was the first half MVP and seemed like a shoo-in for the AL MVP. He hit .329 with 30 homers, 66 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.139. Judge was on an absurd and almost impossible pace to keep up with. He did all of this and he is still a rookie. Being a rookie is probably what hurt him the most though. Pitchers didn’t have much of a scouting report on him so they didn’t know what to do to get him out every time.

But after the first half they had plenty of tape to strategize around and started to adjust quickly to him. They started throwing more breaking balls away and elevating fastballs a little higher, and it worked. Since the All-Star break he has hit  .197 with 13 homers, 30 RBIs, and a .789 OPS. He did not adjust well to the adjustments the pitchers made. That is what a good hitter does. He may have just figured it out recently though. After being completely dropped from the MVP race, he just pushed himself back in. He has hit 6 homers this month while hitting .282. 4 of these homers have come in the last 4 games. He hit 2 against the Orioles on September 7th, and 2 more against them last night. He is second in the league behind Altuve with a WAR of 6.7. Judge has picked it up as late and has asserted himself back in the race.

Jose Altuve:

Finishing third in voting last year behind Mike Trout and Mookie Betts, it seemed as if he was going to finish third again behind Judge and Trout. Then Trout went down with a thumb injury that forced him to miss 39 games, meanwhile Judge was struggling tremendously. During this time Altuve continued to hit. He hit an unthinkable .485 in the month of July. Let me repeat that he hit .485 in July! That is unheard of in this era of baseball. He has hit .348 this season along with 23 homers, 76 RBIs, and leads the AL in stolen bases with 31. He has been consistent all year and hasn’t missed time.

He is the definition of a 5-tool player. Altuve hasn’t gotten a lot of coverage because of the struggles the Astros have had since the All-Star break but he hasn’t had a huge slump like Judge and hasn’t missed games like Trout. He leads the league in WAR with a score of 7.7. If he can keep up his average and maybe smack a few more home runs before the season ends then he could be the frontrunner for the award.

Mike Trout:

Mike Trout is the best player in baseball right now. He missed 39 games due to an injured thumb, but if he gets 59 more plate appearances before the end of the season he will qualify for the leaderboard. If he was qualified right now he would be leading in OPS and top ten in batting average. He has more homers than Altuve with 28, and a better on-base percentage than anyone else in the league as well. He has stolen 20 bags and has a slugging percentage of .640, which would also be leading the league. If Trout did not miss time he would be in the running for the triple crown and be miles ahead of the rest of the competition for the MVP. His WAR of 6.0 is 4th in the league which is insane because of the time he missed.

Trout has been dominant this year and the stats prove that. He has done it all this year and should continue to tear the league up for years to come. Pitchers have adjusted to him and he has adjusted right back. If he gets the plate appearances needed to qualify he should be the front-runner to win this award.

The Dark Horse:

Jose Ramirez:

The best player on the best team. Jose Ramirez leads the league in both doubles and extra base hits. He is the only switch hitter to have an average of .300 or better from both sides of the plate. Ramirez is hitting .314 total which is higher than both Trout and Judge. He hasn’t missed many games like trout and has been consistent all year like Altuve. He has an OPS of .941 which is best for third in the league (until Trout qualifies). His WAR is 5.8 which is tied for fifth best, he is tied with Mookie Betts. The one thing that stands out most for Ramirez though is his versatility. He can play 3rd base, 2nd base, shortstop, and both corner outfield positions. Nobody else on this list can do that. The All-Star game starting 3rd basemen as he should’ve been. Ramirez may not be the favorite to win the award but he will get some votes for sure.

Most unlikely:

Andrelton Simmons:

The best defensive shortstop in the game. His bat wasn’t as good until this year, when he broke out offensively. He is hitting an above average .279 with a 14 homers, his second highest in his career. Simmons has a career high 65 RBIs and a .432 slugging percentage that is also a career best. He has a WAR of 6.6 which is 3rd best in the league. The reason he is unlikely to win is because his numbers are a lot behind the rest. A big reason why he is 3rd in WAR is because of his wizardry defense. The plays he makes are absurd and he does it routinely. His dWAR is an outrageous 3.6, which is .6 higher than the next player. If he could get his offensive numbers up he could be a top candidate next year. He is having a career year but it’s just not enough to win the MVP.