At this point it’s not even a question that Mike Trout is the best player in baseball. After five full seasons in the MLB, Trout has an fWAR of 46.7. It took Ken Griffey Jr. eight seasons to reach that point when he finished the 1996 season with 47.9. And it’s worth noting that Trout is just 25, getting ready to enter what should be his prime.
He already has one MVP award, which he won in 2014. But what’s even more impressive, and a bit confusing, is that he’s finished second in voting three other times. Each season he made a strong case for winning the award, but voters will not accept that Trout can’t help playing on a bad team.
A few weeks ago I wrote an article about things to watch coming into baseball’s final month, and one of the things I said was that Trout likely wouldn’t win the MVP award, unless he played so well that voters didn’t have a choice. And he’s really trying not to give them a choice.
So far in the month of September, Trout is slashing .400/.500/.720. He has two home runs, scored eight times, and has four stolen bases. But he really started making his case in August. When we look back at his stats from August 23 until now, he’s slashing .444/.544/.778. The guy just looks like he has something to prove. And he’s doing just that. If he plays out the rest of the season at this pace and doesn’t win the award, voters are going to have to explain that to me.
While it’s no secret that voters love MVP winners from playoff teams, the key players from those teams have struggled this month. Mookie Betts and the Boston Red Sox currently lead the AL East, but Betts’ performance hasn’t been great lately. He’s only slashing .229/.286/.568 in September. That’s nowhere near the level of Trout’s production.
Then there’s last year’s MVP, Josh Donaldson. Like Betts, Donaldson has also struggled. His slash line is a miserable .107/.286/.143. Jose Altuve was another contender who has also gotten cold as of late, and Houston could also miss the playoffs.
The only player in the conversation that hasn’t had their production drop is Manny Machado. In September, Machado has a slash line of .313/.389/.531. That’s not bad. It’s not Trout good, but it’s solid. Machado also gets a boost for being one of the best defensive players in baseball, as well as the Orioles currently leading the Wild Card race. But, in my opinion he still hasn’t played as well as Trout.
There really is no argument that someone can make against Trout at this point. He’s continuing to excel while others are struggling. He should receive another MVP award come season’s end.
Stats courtesy of fangraphs.com