by Julian Spivey
If I had an MVP vote this would be the top five on my ballot.
1. Alex Bregman (Houston Astros)
As long as the award is called Most Valuable Player, I will never believe it should solely be given to the best overall players in a league. This is why I don’t believe this honor should annually go to Mike Trout. Trout is the best player in baseball. However, I like for MVP winners to most of the time be on teams that are either in the playoffs or at least contended for a spot in the playoffs. That’s almost never Trout and the Los Angeles Angels. Not Trout’s fault, but that’s how I’d vote. The Houston Astros were the best team in baseball this season and their best player is third baseman Alex Bregman. I feel that should account for something. Bregman’s overall numbers mostly ended up being better than Trout’s, as well, because Bregman played the full season, where as Trout was shut down almost a month early due to a foot injury. Bregman’s led the American League in Wins Above Replacement at 8.4, actually surpassing Trout on the season’s final day. He also five points higher than Trout and drove in eight more runs (I know, I already said Trout missed three full weeks), but games played should matter a bit too.
2. Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
I basically explained why Angels outfielder Mike Trout should come in second in the A.L. MVP voting above in my explanation for giving the honor to Alex Bregman. I do predict Trout will win the honor, though, because more and more I believe voters are turning this honor into a Best Player in Baseball award.
3. Marcus Semien (Oakland Athletics)
The Oakland A’s are probably tied with the Tampa Bay Rays, whom they will play on Wednesday night to decide the American League Wild Card winner, for most surprising playoff team of 2019. The A’s best player all season was shortstop Marcus Semien, who may not even be known by novice baseball fans. Semien had the third highest WAR in the A.L. this season at 8.1, while batting .285 with career highs of 33 home runs and 92 runs batted in.
4. D.J. LeMahieu (New York Yankees)
D.J. Le Mahieu was a former batting champion in the National League where he’d frequently hit .300 or better in the hitter friendly Coors Field as a Colorado Rockies infielder, but his signing with the New York Yankees last offseason was somewhat of a head-scratcher as they seemed to have a stacked infield. LeMahieu turned into one of the team’s few healthy hitters for the entire 2019 season and one of the team’s best leaders. LeMahieu hit .327 for the Yanks, which was 50 points higher than with the Rockies last season playing home games in Coors. LeMahieu also hit a career high with 26 homers (11 more than his previous best) and drove in a career best 102 runs in a lineup that was supposed to have Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton as the big boppers.
5. Justin Verlander (Houston Astros)
I know many people don’t like seeing pitchers in the MVP battle because they have their own award in the Cy Young, but I’ve always said pitchers are players too and deserving of such an accolade. What Justin Verlander is still doing on the mound at age 36 is amazing. He led the A.L. with 21 wins in a league leading 34 starts and 223 innings pitched in an era when arms are being babied. Verlander hit the 300 strikeout mark for the first time in his career, which is incredible at 36. He also had a 2.58 ERA and a 7.8 WAR, best among A.L. pitchers and fourth overall in the league. Oh yeah, he also pitched his third career no-hitter this season. If Verlander is number five on my A.L. MVP ballot than his pitching teammate Gerrit Cole would probably have to be 5b.