The MLB world was hit with a bombshell last Tuesday after it was revealed that NL MVP frontrunner Christian Yelich was out for the season after fracturing his kneecap off a foul ball. Now the baseball world is being hit with more major injury news. AL MVP candidate Mike Trout is now out for the rest of the season with a foot injury. It was revealed Sunday afternoon that the Angels star centerfielder would be having surgery this week to address an injury in his right foot that has been lingering for about a month. The Angels were officially eliminated from postseason contention earlier last week, and the Brewers are now 1 game out of the 2nd NL Wild Card spot after winning 5 of their last 7. With these two big names down one of the biggest questions is: Who’s gonna win MVP in each league?
NL MVP Race
The biggest storyline all year in the NL was the MVP battle betweeen Dodgers first basemen Cody Bellinger and Brewers right fielder and reigning MVP winner Christian Yelich. Yelich put up an impressive stat line last year to help him win MVP, batting .326 on the year with 36 home runs, 110 RBIs, 22 SB, an OPS of 1.000. He improved those numbers this year, ending his season with .329 BA, a 1.100 OPS, 30 SB and a whopping 44 home runs, which is tied for 4th overall with MVP favorite Cody Bellinger. Cody Bellinger continues his MVP campaign with a .306 BA, 44 home runs,108 RBIs and a .926 OPS. Bellinger and the star-studded Dodgers lineup clinched their 7th straight NL West title last Wednesday as they hope to make another World Series run.
While Yelich’s injury is significant and does help Bellinger’s campaign, he isn’t the only one having an impressive season. Mets rookie first basemen Pete Alonso is putting together quite the rookie year with a .262 BA, a league leading 47 home runs, 109 RBIs and a .945 OPS in 638 plate appearances. The Mets currently sit 3 games out of the 2nd NL Wild Card spot and are gonna have to rely on more than Pete Alonso if they want to make the postseason. The NL East leading Braves also have an MVP candidate on their hands. Ronald Acuña Jr. is batting .279 with 39 home runs, 97 RBIs, 36 SB and an .875 OPS. Acuña Jr. hopes to become the 5th and youngest member of the MLB 40-40 club and has 11 games left to do so. Staying in the NL East we go to the Washington Nationals and their third basemen Anthony Rendon. Rendon has sneaked into the MVP conversation over the last month. Rendon is batting .331 with 33 home runs, 118 RBIs, and a 1.039 OPS. Rendon’s offensive efforts along with 3 time Cy Young winner and current NL Cy Young candidate Max Scherzer are helping the Nationals hold on to the first NL Wild Card spot.
Author’s Pick: Anthony Rendon. While the NL MVP will most likely go to Cody Bellinger, I find what Rendon has been able to do as nothing short of incredible. After Bryce Harper’s departure to the Phillies in the offseason, the Nationals needed a power bat in their lineup if they wanted to be able to contend. Young slugger Juan Soto has been absolutely amazing for the Nationals, but with the league’s worst bullpen era, (5.92 to be exact), the Nationals needed to rely on more than one player for run support. Early on in the season the Nationals were 10 games back in the NL East and were 12 games under .500, but after an unprecedented run right up to the All-Star Break, the Nationals put themselves back into playoff contention. Bellinger’s season is nothing short of amazing, but he also has an incredible supporting cast that has helped the Dodgers establish themselves as elite World Series contenders. Rendon has put the Nationals on his back and is hoping to carry the franchise to its first playoff series victory.
AL MVP Race
There has been a major shift in the AL MVP race now that Mike Trout has been shut down for the rest of the season. Mike Trout, 6 time Silver Slugger and 2 time AL MVP winner looked like he was on his way to another MVP season before the Angels announced Trout’s season was coming to an early end after it was determined that he would need surgery on a lingering foot injury. Trout ends his season with a .291 BA, 45 home runs, 104 RBIs with a 1.083 OPS. Trout dominated the AL MVP conversation over the past month, but now that conversation is changing. Some notable AL MVP favorites are Alex Bregman, DJ LeMahieu, and Rafael Devers. Astros third basemen Alex Bregman has consistenly produced for the Astros this season, batting .295 and hitting 36 home runs with 104 RBIs and an OPS of .998. The Astros are one of the top World Series contenders this year and have one of the most stacked lineups in all of baseball, inlcuding Bregman’s amazing numbers. If you’re a baseball fan, you probably find it hard to avoid hearing or seeing anything about Yankees second basemen DJ LeMahieu. LeMahieu has a .325 BA with 92 RBIs and an OPS of .889. LeMahieu’s 24 home runs are obviously nowhere near the other contenders, but the 3 time Gold Glove winner with a WAR of 5.6 is hard to ignore. To say the Red Sox have struggled this year is an understatement. It’s seeming very likely that the defending World Champs won’t make a playoff trip to defend their title this year, but that shouldn’t take away from the season that their third basemen is having. Devers has 29 home runs, 107 RBIs while batting .312 and maintaining an OPS of .923. Dever has improved immensely since last year’s Title run, improving his batting average from .240 to .312 and improving his RBI total from 66 to 107. The Red Sox have had their fair share of struggles this year, but Devers has not.
Author’s Pick: Alex Bregman. This was a hard choice, but I ultimately have to give this award to Bregman. I personally don’t focus too much on batting average because of how quickly it fluctuates, so I personally go more by OPS since it’s a number based solely on how well a player does, not how poorly. Bregman has the highest OPS of the other 3 contenders, leads the other contenders in home runs and is only 3 RBIs behind Devers. Bregman also has an impressive WAR of 7.6 and has been one of the most consistent players for the Astros all year. I feel that the Astros’ Title hopes for this year are directly impacted by how well Bregman can perform this postseason.