Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
The American League has been pretty much what we expected this season. A lot of teams all still competing for playoff spots and a ton of parity throughout the divisions. As for the AL MVP race, this is a different story. Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson are both the favorites as of right now to win the award, and deservedly so because both have had great seasons.
But the real debate begins with how the selection of the MVP award is taken into consideration. Will the winner be the guy whose name we say the most down the stretch? Or will it be the player who truly means more to his team than anyone else? The answer is most likely going to be a combination of these two questions.
Lets compare the numbers from these two:
Mike Trout: .295 AVG 33 HR 72 RBI in 119 games
Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Josh Donaldson: .296 AVG 33 HR 94 RBI in 120 games
As you can see these two are about as even as it comes in terms of standard statistics. Trout has a higher WAR (wins above replacement) but Donaldson also has 20 more runs batted in than Trout. The bottomline comes down to what the award is called: Most VALUABLE Player, and not the best statistics at the end of the year. For that reason the award has to go to Mike Trout.
Argue any way you want, but there is no way Josh Donaldson is more valuable to the Blue Jays than Trout is to the Angels. If the Blue Jays hadn’t made big moves to get David Price or Troy Tulowitzki at the deadline it would have strengthened the argument for Donaldson. The Jays are far more talented than the Angels. Take Trout off the Angels and this team is 20 games under .500, take Donaldson off the Blue Jays and they still compete for a playoff/wildcard spot.
The Angels lineup is about 2-3 players deep (Trout, Pujols, Calhoun) everyone else is a crapshoot of revolving doors that provide little to no production. As a team, the Angels are hitting .243 which is a big difference from the Blue Jays .260 not to mention the Jays have hit 30 more home runs than the Halos.
Moving numbers aside just look at the seasons for both these teams. The Angels dealt Josh Hamilton to the Rangers for a bag of donuts, shortly after that the GM Jerry Dipoto resigned, Jered Weaver missed a huge chunk of the season, and now C.J. Wilson is gone for the year. This team has needed Trout more than ever this year and he has answered the bell by carrying a lackluster team to potentially the playoffs. Albert Pujols had a great first half but has since cooled off in the second half adding more weight to Trout. Basically opposing teams could very easily just pitch around Trout every time because theres a good chance nobody else in that lineup is threatening. The Jays have a lineup where 5 or 6 different guys could beat you and carry them on any given night.
As the Angels and Blue Jays continue this series the outcome of how both players and their teams play could have a big impact going forward. But as the pennant races near the end, if Trout or Donaldson are able to get hot and carry their team into the playoffs it will be a big impact on the MVP award. The bottomline as of right now, Josh Donaldson has had a great year, but if we’re talking about the Most VALUABLE Player there is no question it has to be Mike Trout.