Monday, October 3, 2016

Picking AL and NL MVPs

Photo Credit: Troy Taormina, USA Today Sports
One league has a pretty clear cut choice as the regular season comes to a close. The other league's MVP race is a little more open ended which can lead to quite the debate. Should the MVP go to the league's best player even if he's on a bad team? Or should the MVP be on a team that was in contention for the entire year?

In the middle of his recent hot streak, I wrote about Brian Dozier's chance at the AL's top honor. There's little chance the MVP would come from a team with over 100 losses but he could end up getting some top-10 votes. Selecting the top spot in the American League certainly comes with it's own array of challenges.

American League MVP Race
For the second time in his young career, Mike Trout has surpassed 10 WAR according to Baseball Reference. FanGraphs has Trout a tick under 10 with a 9.4 WAR. Both of these totals are a full win higher than his next closest competitor, Mookie Betts.

Betts versus Trout is going to be the hot button topic in the MVP race. Trout led all of baseball in runs, walks, OBP, and OPS + while playing terrific defense in center field. The Angels PR Department tweeted out a list of Trout's accomplishments this season and it's pretty remarkable. Betts led all of baseball in at-bats and total bases while playing defense that might have been better than Trout.

The Angels haven't been within five games of first place since the middle of May. Betts and the Red Sox have been near the top of the AL East for most of the season. Since September 7, Boston has lead the East. Over the last month of the season while being in the middle of the pennant race, Betts has hit .310/.373/.389 with seven extra-base hits.

Should the voting members of the BBWAA pick A very good player on a 90-win team? Or should the best player in baseball over the last couple years get his second MVP award? Betts might have the narrative that voters tend to favor but Trout has been better than Betts so my vote goes to him.

Who should win? Trout
Who will win? Betts
Complete Ballot: 1. Trout, 2. Betts, 3. Josh Donaldson, 4. Jose Altuve, 5. Manny Machado, 6. Robinson Cano, 7. Adrian Beltre, 8. Dozier, 9. Francisco Lindor, 10. Corey Kluber

National League MVP Race
While the AL race might be close, the National League race could be a unanimous choice. The Chicago Cubs were the best team in baseball for most of the season. They won over 100 games and cruised to a division title in what had been one of the toughest divisions in recent years. Kris Bryant has been the best player in the league and he should easily win his first MVP.

Bryant has been impressive during his second full-season. He lead the NL in runs while raising all of his offensive numbers. In 2015, he led the league with 199 strikeouts but he cut that number back to 154 this year. He's also been used at multiple defensive positions including third base, first base, shortstop, and all three outfield positions.

Corey Seager and Daniel Murphy will have a good battle for the NL's runner-up spot. Both players had very good seasons on team that easily won their divisions. Seager's impressive rookie campaign could be the sign of future MVP awards. Murphy might be the missing link for a Nationals club that has struggled with finding post-season success.

Who should win? Bryant
Who will win? Bryant
Complete Ballot: 1. Bryant, 2. Seager, 3. Murphy, 4. Anthony Rizzo, 5. Freddie Freeman, 6. Max Scherzer, 7. Nolan Arenado, 8. Brandon Crawford, 9. Justin Turner, 10. Noah Syndergaard

How would you ballot look for each league? Leave a COMMENT and start this discussion.

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