Skip to content

Pouliot’s midseason award picks: AL MVP

Jul 3, 2013, 6:26 PM EDT

Miguel Cabrera Getty Images

The reigning MVP has some heavy-hitting competition this year. Let’s see if he can hold them off.

AL OPS leaders:

1.136 – Miguel Cabrera: .368/.458/.678, 26 HR, 85 RBI, 2 SB in 323 AB
1.126 – Chris Davis: .329/.405/.721, 31 HR, 80 RBI, 0 SB in 301 AB
1.102 – David Ortiz: .320/.406/.607, 16 HR, 57 RBI, 2 SB in 244 AB
.927 – Mike Trout: .311/.388/.539, 13 HR, 53 RBI, 20 SB in 334 AB
.920 – Evan Longoria: .301/.371/.549, 17 HR, 47 RBI, 0 SB in 306 AB
.920 – Josh Donaldson: .318/.386/.534, 14 HR, 55 RBI, 2 SB in 305 AB
.913 – Jason Kipnis: .299/.385/.529, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 19 SB in 278 AB
.908 – Robinson Cano: .295/.372/.537, 20 HR, 54 RBI, 5 SB in 315 AB
.887 – Edwin Encarnacion: .270/.350/.537, 23 HR, 66 RBI, 3 SB in 315 AB
.878 – Joe Mauer: .318/.402/.475, 8 HR, 27 RBI, 0 SB in 305 AB

Other notables:

.846 – Dustin Pedroia: .321/.404/.441, 5 HR, 47 RBI, 12 SB in 324 AB
.841 – Howie Kendrick: .323/.367/.475, 9 HR, 38 RBI, 6 SB in 316 AB
.839 – Manny Machado: .321/.352/.488, 6 HR, 42 RBI, 6 SB in 361 AB

Here are the WAR top 10s:

Baseball-reference

5.2 – Manny Machado
4.9 – Miguel Cabrera
4.3 – Chris Sale
4.1 – Chris Davis
4.1 – Dustin Pedroia
4.0 – Clay Buchholz
3.8 – Robinson Cano
3.8 – Josh Donaldson
3.7 – Hisashi Iwakuma
3.7 – Jason Kipnis

Fangraphs

5.4 – Miguel Cabrera
4.6 – Mike Trout
4.6 – Chris Davis
4.5 – Evan Longoria
4.2 – Manny Machado
3.9 – Josh Donaldson
3.5 – Jose Bautista
3.5 – Joe Mauer
3.4 – Derek Holland
3.4 – Max Scherzer
3.4 – Felix Hernandez

Now, I’m all for considering pitchers for MVP awards, but three months into this year, I don’t think any pitcher besides maybe Scherzer is in the mix for even a down ballot vote. B-ref WAR may disagree, but I don’t believe any AL starters have been as valuable as Adam Wainwright and Matt Harvey in the NL.

If the BBWAA held the vote today, I don’t think there’s any doubt that Cabrera would win in a landslide, with Davis finishing second. And that’s justifiable. Cabrera ranks first in the AL in average, second in homers and first in RBI. Davis is second in average, first in homers and second in RBI. They’re one-two in OPS as well, and it’s close there. However, Cabrera’s extra 53 points of OBP are worth a lot more than Davis’s 48 points of slugging.

Defense brings the two only a bit closer together; I think Davis has a bit more value as a decent first baseman than Cabrera does as a poor third baseman. But it’s not a big margin. Cabrera’s ballpark is also a bit tougher than Davis’s, so I think it’s pretty clear that Cabrera comes out ahead of Davis.

That leaves Trout and Machado as the competition. There are two big differences in the Trout vs. Cabrera battle this year. First, the offensive gap is much larger. Last year, Cabrera edged Trout by a mere 36 points of OPS (.999 to .963). This year, it’s a 200-point margin. The other difference is that Trout’s defensive numbers are way down this year. B-ref rates him as below average, while Fangraphs has him right around average. My eyes tell me that Trout truly did struggle defensively in April, but that he’s been much better of late. Regardless, his defense and baserunning aren’t close to making up the offensive gap this year.

That leaves Machado, whose case is built on his remarkable defensive numbers. Fangraphs says he’s been worth a win and a half, making him baseball’s most valuable defensive player so far. B-ref has him at 2 1/2 wins, more than a win ahead of anyone else in the AL.

I’m pretty skeptical of B-ref’s accounting there. Machado is an excellent third baseman. Actually, he’s an excellent shortstop playing a position for which he’s overqualified. But 2 1/2 wins seems excessive. I have a hard time believing that a player who gets three balls hit his way per game can be worth 25 extra runs in half of a season. Fangraphs’ math makes him the AL’s fifth most valuable player, which sounds about right to me. For all of those wonderful doubles, he ranks only 16th in the AL in OPS and 26th in OBP. He’s third in outs made.

After those four, it’s mostly more third basemen and second basemen vying for spots. It shows how down of a year it’s been for AL outfielders; Trout is the only one in the top 10 in OPS.

AL MVP picks

1. Cabrera
2. Davis
3. Trout
4. Machado
5. Pedroia
6. Longoria
7. Donaldson
8. Kipnis
9. Cano
10. Ortiz

Latest Posts
  1. The Giants are making a push for Cole Hamels now? That doesn’t make a ton of sense.

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:19 AM EDT

    hamelsgra Getty Images

    Or they’re making a push to make the Dodgers’ life complicated. Either way.

  2. Did the Rockies do Troy Tulowitzki dirty?

    Jul 28, 2015, 9:10 AM EDT

    Troy Tulowitzki Troy Tulowitzki

    The trade happened just after the game. Did Rockies ownership consult Tulowitzki on it, as they said they would?

  3. Why in the heck weren’t the Mets all over that Tulowitzki action?

    Jul 28, 2015, 8:30 AM EDT

    CORRECTION Mets Sale Baseball

    They could’ve topped what Toronto gave Colorado for Troy Tulowitzki. Heck, most teams could’ve. Why didn’t they?

  4. And That Happened: Monday’s scores and highlights

    Jul 28, 2015, 7:23 AM EDT

    Kris Bryant

    Kris Bryant walked the Rockies off and then the Rockies sent Troy Tulowitzki off.

  5. Report: Rockies trade Troy Tulowitzki to Blue Jays for Jose Reyes and prospects

    Jul 28, 2015, 12:34 AM EDT

    tulowitzki getty Getty Images

    The Blue Jays have reportedly pulled off a stunner, acquiring Troy Tulowitzki from the Rockies.

  6. Report: The Dodgers would move Yasiel Puig “in the right deal”

    Jul 27, 2015, 11:27 PM EDT

    Yasiel Puig AP

    We know that the Dodgers are likely to add a pitcher or two before Friday’s non-waiver trade deadline, but could they also deal Yasiel Puig in the process?

  7. Report: The Nationals are “hottest” on Padres closer Craig Kimbrel

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:50 PM EDT

    Craig Kimbrel Getty Images

    The Nationals were reportedly looking at a reunion with Tyler Clippard before the Athletics traded him to the Mets tonight, but there’s a chance they could do something a lot bigger to strengthen the back-end of their bullpen.

  8. Alex Rodriguez celebrates 40th birthday with a home run

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:27 PM EDT

    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 27:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees celebrates with Brian McCann #34 of the New York Yankees after hitting a solo home run against the Texas Rangers in the top of the sixth inning at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 27, 2015 in Arlington, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez rang in his 40th birthday tonight by doing exactly what he’s been doing for much of the past 20 years.

  9. Video: Nick Markakis receives standing ovation in his return to Baltimore

    Jul 27, 2015, 10:01 PM EDT

    BALTIMORE, MD - JULY 27: Nick Markakis #22 of the Atlanta Braves acknowledges the crowd before his at bat in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on July 27, 2015 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Markakis played his first nine seasons in the majors with the Orioles before signing a four-year, $44 million contract with the Braves last December.

  10. Report: The Astros are “making a big push” for Cole Hamels

    Jul 27, 2015, 9:22 PM EDT

    CHICAGO, IL - JULY 25:  on July 25, 2015 at Wrigley Field in Chicago, Illinois. Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies pitched a no hitter. The Philliess won 5-0. (Photo by David Banks/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Getty Images

    The Astros acquired Scott Kazmir from the Athletics last week, but they are still thinking big as they make a push for the postseason.

  11. Shawn Tolleson avoids injury after collision with Keone Kela during batting practice

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:49 PM EDT

    ARLINGTON, TX - JULY 07: Shawn Tolleson #37 of the Texas Rangers pitches in the ninth inning during a game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Globe Life Park in Arlington on July 7, 2015 in Arlington, Texas. The Arizona Diamondbacks defeated the Texas Rangers 4-2.  (Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Tolleson is available for tonight’s game against the Yankees.

  12. The Tigers are moving Shane Greene and his 6.72 ERA to the bullpen

    Jul 27, 2015, 8:01 PM EDT

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - JULY 12: Shane Greene #61 of the Detroit Tigers delivers a pitch against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on July 12, 2015 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Greene’s 6.72 ERA is the highest among all MLB pitchers with at least 80 innings pitched.

  13. Jered Weaver to make minor league rehab start Thursday

    Jul 27, 2015, 7:08 PM EDT

    OAKLAND, CA - JUNE 20:  Manager Mike Scioscia #14 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim takes the ball from pitcher Jered Weaver #36, taking him out of the game against the Oakland Athletics in the bottom of the sixth inning at O.co Coliseum on June 20, 2015 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) Getty Images

    Weaver has been out since July 20 with left hip inflammation.

  14. Mets acquire Tyler Clippard from the Athletics

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:21 PM EDT

    Tyler Clippard A's Getty Images

    Clippard and Jeurys Familia should give the Mets a potent late-inning combo.

  15. Angels acquire Shane Victorino from Red Sox

    Jul 27, 2015, 6:14 PM EDT

    Shane Victorino Getty Images

    Hamstring and calf injuries have limited Victorino to just 33 games this season.

  16. The Diamondbacks have expressed interest in Cole Hamels

    Jul 27, 2015, 5:41 PM EDT

    Cole Hamels Getty Images

    For Hamels to approve a trade there, however, the expression of interest would have to be mutual.

  17. Stephen Strasburg is ready for a rehab assignment

    Jul 27, 2015, 3:04 PM EDT

    stephen strasburg getty Getty Images

    Strasburg is coming back from a strained oblique muscle.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. A. Rodriguez (4321)
  2. J. Cueto (3756)
  3. K. Schwarber (3743)
  4. M. Trout (3222)
  5. M. Conforto (3123)
  1. S. Kazmir (3086)
  2. C. Hamels (3033)
  3. J. Upton (2988)
  4. D. Price (2983)
  5. G. Stanton (2721)