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Making the cases for 2018 AL MVP

Who has been the best player in the American League this season?

MLB: World Series-Boston Red Sox at Los Angeles Dodgers Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

The 2018 season is over, and that means the debates for some of Major League Baseball’s prestigious regular-season awards — the Most Valuable Player, the Cy Young, the Rookie of the Year, the Gold Glove, the Silver Slugger, and the Manager of the Year — are happening right now.

In this series, we are going to make cases for those players and managers who are in the running for these awards to come away with the hardware in their respective leagues. We will continue our series by examining the candidates for the American League Most Valuable Player award.

  1. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox — The Red Sox put together the best record in baseball and won the World Series this year in large part because of Betts being arguably the best player in the game. The 26-year-old right-handed hitter led all of MLB in batting average (.346), slugging percentage (.640), runs (129), WAR (10.9) and runs created (141.8) and ranked in the top three among the entire AL in extra-base hits (first with 84), OPS (second with 1.078), runs created per 27 outs (second with 10.72), doubles (second with 47), and on-base percentage (second with .438). Defensively, Betts led all MLB right fielders in defensive runs saved (plus-20), UZR (15.3), RZR (.959) and DEF (10.1). Betts has already won an AL Silver Slugger award and an AL Gold Glove award for his efforts this season. Now, he will try to become Boston’s 11th different player to win the MVP, joining Tris Speaker (1912), Jimmie Foxx (1938), Ted Williams (1946, 1949), Jackie Jensen (1958), Carl Yastrzemski (1967), Fred Lynn (1975), Jim Rice (1978), Roger Clemens (1986), Mo Vaughn (1995) and Dustin Pedroia (2008).
  2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles AngelsTrout is going to try to win the MVP for the third time in his eight-year career, and he has just as good of a case to capture it. The 27-year-old right-handed hitter led the entire MLB in OPS (1.088), on-base percentage (.460), and runs created per 27 outs (11.19), and ranked in the top three among the entire AL in walks (first with 122), intentional walks (first with 25), OPS+ (first with 199), WAR (second with 10.2), runs created (second with 138.9), and slugging percentage (third with .628). Trout has also already won an AL Silver Slugger award this year, but did not take home a Gold Glove despite leading all AL center fielders in DRS at plus-8 and ranked second in UZR (4.0) and DEF (5.8). Like the second time he won the MVP in 2016, Trout will try to win the MVP in spite of the Angels missing the playoffs. Trout will try to become the 11th player in MLB history to win three MVP awards in a career.
  3. Jose Ramirez, Cleveland Indians — A big reason why the Indians won their third consecutive AL Central title this season was because of Ramirez being an even better player than he was last year. Among the MVP finalists, the 26-year-old switch hitter had more RBI (105), home runs (tied with Trout with 39), at-bats (578) and stolen bases (34). He also ranked in the top five in the AL in walks (second with 106), OPS (fourth with .939), slugging percentage (fourth with .552), runs (fourth with 110), total bases (fourth with 319), runs created (fourth with 133.0), runs created per 27 outs (fourth with 8.26), WAR (tied for fourth with 7.9), and extra-base hits (fifth with 81). Ramirez has also won an AL Silver Slugger honor this year, but did not claim a Gold Glove. Ramirez will try to become the Indians’ first MVP winner since Al Rosen back in 1953 and only the fourth player in franchise history to earn the honor.