The Major League Baseball season isn’t yet three weeks old. However, there are some interesting players already putting together what could be amazing seasons. Sure, a lot can happen between now and September but where is the fun in waiting? We present the five early AL MVP candidates for your perusal.
Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels – We start with a perennial favorite to win the award. Trout is still simply the best player in the game right now and the Angels are off to a hot start. He likely would have won the award last year had he stayed healthy. This year he is tied for the league lead in home runs and has scored 15 runs while driving in 13. His current pace would have him hit 57 home runs, score 143 runs, and drive in 124 while also walking 124 times. Those are certainly MVP numbers and the 57 home runs, while it would be a career high for him, aren’t out of the realm of possibility.
Shohei Ohtani, DH-SP, Los Angeles Angels – Ohtani is living up to all the hype early in his first season, both on the mound and at the plate. In eight games, Ohtani has three home runs, 11 RBI, five runs scored, and is slashing .367/.424/.767. On the mound he dominating. He has struck out 19 over 15 innings and has won two of his three decisions while pitching to a 3.60 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. Individually, Ohtani’s numbers might be nothing to rave about but when you combine his pitching and hitting performances it is hard to argue he isn’t an MVP candidate. Time will tell if he can hold up over the course of a full year. He has already been pulled from his last start because of blisters. However, the start he is having, and his talent, combine to make him an early candidate.
Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees – Judge finished last season as the runner-up to Jose Altuve in the AL MVP race. So far, he is showing last year was no fluke. He is already slashing .339/.480/.593 with four home runs, 15 runs scored, 11 RBI, and three doubles. Will he penalized by voters for now having the reigning 2017 NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton on his team this year? That is hard to say. What isn’t hard to say is the reigning 2017 AL Rookie of the Year is off to a great start and might even surpass last year’s prodigious numbers.
Mookie Betts, OF Boston Red Sox – Betts was a favorite among prognosticators last season to win the AL MVP. However, Betts struggled to find his power last year, along with the rest of the Red Sox. This year is a different story. Betts is off to a hot start and has helped lead the Red Sox to a MLB-best 14-2 start. He has already crushed five home runs, scored 19 runs, driven in 13 runs, and has walked (10) more than he has struck out (6). He is also slashing .389/.493/.796. This kind of start will put you into the MVP discussion.
Didi Gregorius, SS, New York Yankees – Gregorius might be the biggest surprise this side of Ohtani. On a team with preseason MVP candidates like Judge, Stanton, and Gary Sanchez, Gregorius might be having the best year among them. He has slashed .333/.464/.804, clubbed five home runs, scored 14 runs, driven in 16 runs, knocked seven doubles and one triple, and has walked 14 times compared to just four strikeouts. Gregorius showed last year that he was a good ballplayer. He has improved every year since taking over for Derek Jeter. However, he has really put it together this year and his hot start is getting noticed. He might not keep this pace up since it would blow his career norms away but imagine what would happen if he did keep this pace up. He is currently on pace for 51 home runs, 10 triples, 71 doubles, 162 RBI, 142 runs scored, 142 BBs, and just 41 Ks. That would be a season for the record books.