I hold these truths to be self-evident:
- Mike Trout is the best player, not only now, but of the last 50 years.
- Team success should not be a determining factor in deciding MVP candidates. One man cannot make a team, we have over 100 years of empirical evidence to support this.
- MVP is not a “Triple Crown” category award. Whether you say it’s the “best” player, or truly most “valuable”…there is SO MUCH more to it than Avg-HR’s-RBI’s.
- MVP should be: The best all-around player, having the best all-around season.
This is the framework I work on to evaluate my MVP candidates, and this year, it comes down to 5 guys: Trout, Mookie, JD Martinez, Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor.
Now, I don’t eliminate candidates based on their team sucking- because that is stupid. Mike Trout is just as valuable to an 80 win team as he would be to a 100 win team. Anyone who argues otherwise doesn’t understand the concepts of value or team sports.
But in this case, Trout’s value this season is pretty similar to the other candidates. And being on a contending team does create an added element of pressure and importance…so, unfortunately, unless he does something like hit 20 HR’s in September…Trout is OUT of contention for #1 on my ballot.
Francisco Lindor isn’t necessarily a household name yet, but the guy is one of the best young players in baseball. He’s a stud, he’s a SS, and he does EVERYTHING well. Also, if you saw him mic’d up at the ASG, he’s a great personality and face of baseball. Unfortunately, he’s not the best player on his team this year, so Lindor is also OUT.
Now, we come to my top 3 candidates.
Most people around here think it’s a Betts vs Martinez contest for MVP…they’d be wrong.
JD Martinez is having an incredible season at the plate. He’s living up to what some- including me, as I wrote in February– expected…an ELITE bat in the middle of a lineup. The effect of his bat has been a big part of the Sox’ turnaround into the best offense in baseball, and so, he’s getting serious MVP buzz.
But…the guy will likely finish the season with twice as many games at DH than in the OF. And when he’s in the OF, he’s serviceable at best in LF at Fenway…anyone could do that. If you’re going to be basically a DH, you better be setting records if you want to win an MVP. JD is a phenomenal hitter…but he’s not the MVP. JD is no better than third for me.
It really comes down to Ramirez vs Betts for MVP.
Jose Ramirez, if you don’t know, is an absolute BEAST, and has been for 2+ seasons. He’s going to flirt with 50 HR’s, and is one of the best all-around players in the game. He’s played multiple positions in years past, and this year has become a premier defensive 3B in the AL. The Indians have been in first place most of the season, overcoming bullpen and depth issues, and Ramirez is a large part of their success.
You all know about Mookie. His season has been incredible. While batting average has it’s flaws as an end-all be-all stat…if you’re hitting .350 after 3/4 of a seaon, you’re friggin’ awesome. Add in an absolutely filthy 1.104 OPS, and 193 OPS+ (that just means he’s dominating everywhere, not just at Fenway), the fact that he’s scoring a run a game, and likely career highs in HR’s and SB’s, all while being arguably the best fielder in baseball….YEAH, that sounds like an MVP to me.
Bottom line is, (*HOT TAKE ALERT) it’s going to come down to the final 40 games- If I’m voting now, it’s Betts by a little bit. But 110+ Wins for the Sox isn’t going to cut it alone. He needs to ride out the season on the ridiculous pace he’s been on, to fight off Ramirez.