With several weeks of baseball in the books, we are starting to see the real MVP candidates in MLB starting to separate themselves from the early-season mirages.
These three players are carrying their respective teams and deserve consideration for the MVP award if the season ended today.
3. Aaron Judge, OF, New York Yankees
When New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge rejected a $213 million contract extension on Opening Day, he and his camp knew that to get the kind of contract he wants after the season when he reaches free agency, he would need to perform at an MVP-level.
Well, he is doing just that, having the best season of his career so far.
Judge is slashing .313/.384/.681 with an MLB-leading 17 home runs, 37 runs, and 36 RBI.
Together with fellow MVP candidate Mike Trout, he is leading the American League in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) with 2.9, an insane total considering we still haven’t even reached June.
Judge is determined to approach or surpass $300 million in his next contract, and once he reaches free agency, at least a couple of teams would be willing to pay that price.
In the meantime, he is doing what he knows best: swing a bat and produce some runs.
The Yankees are lucky to have him, and they wouldn’t be where they are without Judge.
Aaron Judge 2017 in 40 games: .315/.417/.692, 15 HR, 30 RBI, 189 wRC+
Aaron Judge 2022 in 40 games: .325/.398/.715, 17 HR, 34 RBI, 221 wRC
He is going to be voted this year what he rightfully deserved five years ago. The MVP of the American League
— Dan Rourke (@DanAlanRourke) May 24, 2022
2. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
Mike Trout missed most of the 2021 season with a grade 2 calf strain that was way worse than the Los Angeles Angels’ medical staff imagined.
Without him, the Angels’ playoff hopes went out the window.
This year, Trout is proving to those who say he is not the same hitter he once was and that he is still very much the top offensive producer in MLB.
So far, Trout is batting .310/.415/.655 with 12 home runs, 35 runs, and 26 RBI for the surprisingly good Angels, who are fighting for first place in the AL West division with the Houston Astros.
As long as Trout is healthy, he will produce the same offensive numbers he has over the course of his Hall of Fame career, minus the stolen bases.
At 30, we can firmly say, judging his performance so far, that Trout is far from finished: his 1.070 OPS leads both leagues.
1. Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are 28-16, just two games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers for the NL West’s top spot.
Much of their success can be attributed to having the early-season favorite for the NL MVP award: Manny Machado.
Machado has carried the team while Fernando Tatis Jr. recovers from a wrist injury that has robbed him all season so far.
The two-way third baseman is slashing .361/.437/.590 with eight homers, 34 runs, 27 RBI, and even seven stolen bases.
Additionally, he has been elite with a glove in his hand, as usual.
If it weren’t for him, the Padres would have no business hanging with the Dodgers.
He has been the main reason why the Dodgers are still within reach.
Once Tatis is healthy and in a groove at the plate, this team will be very hard to beat with its pitching depth and their two marquee sluggers.
Manny Machado's chances of winning the National League MVP award have increased more than tenfold since the start of the season.
— Pete Watt (@WattAreTheOdds) May 26, 2022