Following a season-ending injury to Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout, the AL MVP race has suddenly opened up again, with several stars on the best teams in the junior circuit infused with renewed vigor knowing they have a shot at taking down King Trout.
10. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
After a down year with the Philadelphia Phillies, Santana is rocking in Cleveland, as he is in the middle of a career year in which he has hit a career-best 34 home runs, driven in a new record 89 runs, and kept the Indians afloat in the AL Central. Santana should get first priority over Francisco Lindor in the AL MVP race, as far as Tribe engines.
9. Matt Chapman, Oakland Athletics
A .247 average isn't going to please the curmudgeonly writers that litter the BBWAA, but he and Marcus Semien are carrying the A's as they fight for a playoff spot. Chapman's usual excellent defense, paired with 34 home runs and 85 RBI, should get the Oakland third baseman in the thick of the MVP hunt, even if he has an outside shot at winning it.
8. George Springer, Houston Astros
Springer missed a good chunk of time earlier in the season, but that hasn't stopped him from putting together the best season in what has already been an impressive career. In just 113 games, Springer has clubbed 35 home runs and driven in 90 runs. Him next to Jose Altuve, Alex Bregman, and Carlos Correa in that Astros lineup is borderline unfair, and he should be commended for being so dominant in such a short span of time.
7. Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox
The 22-year-old has bounced back from a subpar 2018 and is currently leading the AL in total bases, while racking up 79 extra-base hits. With a .310 average, 29 home runs, and 107 RBI to go along with his 50 doubles, Devers is now officially an offensive star. Playing on a Red Sox team that likely won't make the postseason, however, could be a bit of a problem for the voters, and a cold month of September has further pushed him back.
6. Gleyber Torres, New York Yankees
While DJ LeMahieu is getting most of the Yankees MVP love, Torres' amazing 2019 shouldn't be discounted. Torres has already slammed 38 home runs and driven in 90 runs while hitting at a robust .285 clip. Torres could always put the ball in play, but his newfound power stroke has quickly changed the complexion of the Yankees, and that alone warrants MVP consideration.
5. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Verlander and his teammate Gerrit Cole are currently battling each other for the AL Cy Young Award, but Verlander gets the edge in both the Cy and MVP races. With a 2.50 ERA and 283 strikeouts this year, Verlander has posted the lowest batting average against (.168) since Pedro Martinez in 2000. That kind of dominance should earn him some high marks in the MVP race.
4. Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox
Bogaerts might be stuck on what has turned out to be a disappointing Red Sox team, but that hasn't stopped him from putting together a season that would make 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts blush. Bogaerts is hitting .301 with 81 extra base hits (31 of which are home runs) and 106 RBI. He proved that last year was not a fluke, and that he is here to stay as an elite offensive middle infielder (on a cheap deal, as well).
3. DJ LeMahieu, New York Yankees
We all knew LeMahieu could hit, but who ever expected that he would have an impact like this on the Yankees? LeMahieu has led off just abut every day for the Yankees, and has responded with a .329 average, to go along with career highs in home runs (24) and RBI (94). A guy they originally signed to back up Troy Tulowitzki is now the table-setter for one of the best lineups in baseball.
2. Alex Bregman, Houston Astros
If the writers get vindictive with Trout over missing the last two weeks and don't give him the MVP, it will almost assuredly go to Bregman, who has emerged as the engine that drives this Astros team. Bregman's .296 average, 37 bombs, and 105 RBI to go along with a 160 OPS+ and stellar defense on arguably the best team in the land are certainly numbers befitting an MVP, but he slides in just behind Trout.
1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Don't overthink this one. With 600 plate appearances this season, Trout has 12 less than Mookie Betts has last year, so he's played enough to warrant the award. Statistically, there's no one like him across all of baseball, as his 1.083 OPS, 45 home runs, and 184 OPS+ are dwarfing the rest of the field, and should give him the third MVP award of his career.