Now it’s time for the big one: the Most Valuable Player. In the American League last year, Josh Donaldson gave Mike Trout his third runner-up finish as Donaldson secured his first title. Lorenzo Cain was a breakout star and finished a distant third. This year, some of the same names will be in the race and also some new ones.
Manny Machado: Machado won the AL Player of the Month for April, so it’s fitting that he’d up on this list. Machado is second in the AL with a .355 batting average, 3rd with 7 HRs, and has 16 RBIs. Machado also leads the AL in doubles with a whopping 13 already. He has also walked 9 times to bring his OBP to .410 and SLG to a league-leading .673. Machado is second in the AL, according to baseball-reference, in total WAR with 1.9.
Josh Donaldson: The reigning AL MVP isn’t slowing down this year as he looks to defend his crown. So far, Donaldson is tied for the AL lead in HRs with 9, third in the AL with 21 RBIs, and is batting a respectable .282. Donaldson also has 8 doubles, 1 triple, and 16 walks. His OBP is at .383 and his SLG is at .618. Donaldson currently has 1.8 WAR.
Mike Trout: The former MVP who has also finished second place in the voting three times in his young career, Trout is looking to take back his MVP title this year. Trout is currently eighth in the league for batting average with .317, third with 7 HRs, and 2nd with 22 RBIs. Trout also has 6 doubles, 1 triple, and 15 walks. His OBP stands at .400–5th best in the AL–and his SLG at .596. He leads the AL with 2.0 WAR this year.
Jose Altuve: A newcomer to the MVP conversation, Altuve definitely has the number to back up his case this year. Altuve is second in the AL with 8 HRs, has 17 RBIs, and is batting .306 for the former batting champion. Altuve is tied for the league lead with 13 doubles and has walked 14 times. His OBP is at .398 and his SLG at .640. Altuve currently has 1.9 WAR, second best in the AL.
Jordan Zimmermann: The AL Pitcher of the Month for April, Zimmermann has taken the American League by storm in his first 5 starts with the Detroit Tigers. Zimmermann is 5-0 with a MLB-best 0.55 ERA. He has only given up 2 runs and has struck out 23 batters in 33 innings. Zimmermann currently leads all American League pitchers with 1.9 WAR through 5 starts.
Chris Sale: Sale has an AL-best 6 wins in 6 starts this year with a 1.66 ERA, third in the AL. Sale is also 6th in the AL with 38 strikeouts in 43.1 innings. Opponents are batting only .171 against Sale–third best in the AL–and his WHIP stands at 0.81, second to only Drew Smyly in the Junior Circuit. Sale currently is second in the AL in terms of pitchers’ WAR with 1.6.
Others of Note:
There are definitely others that can be thrown into the AL MVP conversation through the first 25 games or so of the season. Here are some others:
Robinson Cano: Cano leads the American League with 9 HRs, leads the AL with 26 RBIs, and is batting .273. His OBP stands at .333 and his SLG at .564 as he leads the Mariners this year. Cano also has 1.6 WAR in the young season.
Victor Martinez: V-Mart is third in the AL with a .341 batting average behind teammate Nick Castellanos and Manny Machado. Martinez also has 5 home runs and 18 RBIs. He also has 10 doubles to bring his OBP to .396 and SLG to .625. V-Mart has accumulated 1.1 WAR.
There are several others that are worthy thus far to be included in the MVP conversation such as David Ortiz, Ian Kinsler, Nick Castellanos, Xander Bogaerts, Carlos Correa, and Adam Eaton among others. Who stands out to you as the early favorite for this honor?