We here at CBS Sports have spent the week analyzing all of baseball's award races.
Today, we'll conclude our series by dissecting the American League Most Valuable Player Award. As you probably know, there a a lot of capable candidates. Let's get to it.
Mookie Betts has been the most productive player in the AL this season, as judged by Baseball-Reference's wins above replacement metric. That he's amassed more than eight wins while recording fewer plate appearances than anyone else in the top 10 suggests he's been the top player on both a rate and counting basis. Add in how he's the face of the best team in baseball, and there's every reason to believe he's the odds-on favorite to win AL MVP.
Of course, "odds-on favorite" for the award doesn't mean Betts will win the award. Mike Trout is less than half a win beyond Betts and has been a slightly better hitter per park-adjusted stats. Unfortunately for Trout, he's stuck on a team without playoff aspirations. It's hard to see him overcoming the narrative when he isn't clearly ahead in numbers.
Jose Ramirez is also right there with Betts and Trout in WAR. In a vacuum, there's no doubt Ramirez would be a deserving winner based on the season he's having. Figuring out an argument for Ramirez that precludes voting for Betts is difficult, however, since Betts has been the superior hitter and plays on a better team. Maybe if enough voters believe Ramirez was more crucial to Cleveland's success than Betts' was to Boston's -- or maybe if they have a predilection for infielders. Otherwise, Ramirez is probably battling it out with Trout for second.
Can you feel the narrative building? Matt Chapman is a heck of a player -- an above-average hitter and all-world defender at the hot corner -- and he's almost certain to receive a bump because of the Oakland Athletics' unlikely run toward the postseason. If the A's win the division, it wouldn't shock us were Chapman to find his way into the top three of voting.