On Tuesday the MLB and BBWAA announced the finalists for the both American and National League MVP. The winners will be announced on November 19 on MLB Network at 6 pm EST. While we all wait, Sportsnaut decided to rank the players who have the best chance to take home the most coveted individual award in baseball.
1. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
Leading the Blue Jays to a dramatic ALDS championship, Josh Donaldson is the front-runner to win the AL MVP. The third baseman was already voted Major League Player of the Year and AL Outstanding Player in the annual Players Choice Awards. He was second in home runs this season, belting 41, and ranked first in RBI with 123.
As an added bonus, Donaldson smacked the hardest-hitting home run at 120.5 MPH, according to Fan Graphs. The tremendous feat came in April against Baltimore Orioles pitcher Chris Tillman. We’ve heard the old adage, “the faster it comes in, the faster it goes out.” Well Donaldson proved that wrong by smacking the homer on a changeup, which, on average, is 10 MPH slower than a fastball. What does this prove? That the former Auburn Tiger has some serious raw power, which is a direct correlation to his tremendous .568 slugging percentage.
The icing on the cake is that Donaldson led the AL in total bases and sacrifice flies. Furthermore, he led the entire MLB with 20 game-winning RBI. He was the most dominant offensive player in the AL and is the favorite to win the 2015 AL MVP.
2. Mike Trout, CF, Los Angeles Angels
The All Star game MVP will give the voters a serious argument as to why he should be named the AL MVP, for the second year in a row. Trout’s .590 slugging percentage and .991 OPS were the best in the AL, and his .299 batting average is good for 9th in the AL.
With the season on the brink of collapsing, Trout stepped up as a leader both on and off the field for the Angels posting a .308 batting average in October. He was named 2012 Rookie of the Year and has been the MLB’s most electrifying player since his debut in 2011. The New Jersey native posseses a legitimate threat to front-runner Josh Donaldson to be named the AL MVP.
3. Lorenzo Cain, CF, Kansas City Royals
The most surprising finalist on this list helped the Royals win their first World Series since 1985. The center fielder posted career highs in slugging percentage (.838), home runs (16), RBI (72), runs scored (101) and stolen bases (28). What’s even more impressive is that he did so in just 140 games.
Cain was named the starting right fielder in the All Star game, with Trout as the starting center fielder. The one stat that really separates him from Donaldson and Trout is his defensive wins above replacement at 2.3. He was named the 2014 ALCS MVP, and will look to be the first Kansas City MVP since George Brett in 1980.
1. Bryce Harper, RF, Washington Nationals
The lone bright spot in the disappointing Nationals campaign, Harper is almost a shoo-in to win the 2015 NL MVP. The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year ended the 2015 season first in home runs (42), runs scored (118), slugging percentage (.649) and most impressively, in OPS (1.109).
Before being involved in an altercation with Jonathan Paplebon in the dugout, Harper had already proved his worth to the Nats. He has just two years left on his current contract, and is a bargain at $7.5 million per year. With high-profile agent Scott Boras on his side, look for Harper to leverage his breakout season for a serious payday.
Just like his AL counterpart Josh Donaldson, Harper was voted as the NL Outstanding Player by his peers.
Josh Donaldson voted top player by peers, Bryce Harper voted best in NL.
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) November 10, 2015
Without a doubt, Harper is the NL MVP favorite. He now has the task of leading the 2016 Nationals back to the top.
2. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks
Already securing a 2015 NL Gold Glove, Goldschmidt has a leg up on Trout in the defensive category. The former eighth-round draft pick converted the most double plays and had the highest defensive WAR among qualified first basemen in the NL, according to arizonasports.com.
However, the Arizona first baseman does not lead in any of the offensive categories, which will undoubtedly hurt his chance at winning the NL MVP. He was second in OPS (1.005), which would be first if it wasn’t for Harper’s breakout year, and is third in batting average (.321). He led the third place NL West Diamondbacks with 33 home runs and 110 RBI.
While it’s unlikely that Goldschmidt will win the award, he established himself as a valuable piece f0r Arizona, and the franchise will look to build a young, contending squad around him in 2016.
3. Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds
The 2010 NL MVP needed a big season, and he got it, particularly in the second half of the 2015 campaign. From July to October, Votto posted an outstanding .362 batting average and .617 slugging percentage. He was first in the NL in walks with 143, which is amazing for a power hitter. Unfortunately, leading the league in walks does not have a relevant factor in deciding an MVP winner.
The Reds had the second-worst record in the NL at 64-98 and finished 36 games out of first place in a division that sent three teams to the playoffs. Votto’s production came at a hefty price of $14 million in 2015, and many experts think his time with Cincinnati could be coming to an end as the team looks to rebuild.