The 2021 MLB season is already two months old, and MVP candidates are starting to appear in the American League.
These three players are above the rest in the MVP consideration when it comes to the junior circuit.
3. Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees
Not only has Gerrit Cole been the unquestioned New York Yankees ace, but he has also been, according to Wins Above Replacement, the most valuable pitcher in MLB.
WAR is a counting stat, meaning Cole has the upper hand over pitchers who have been hurt and missed some action, like Jacob deGrom.
That’s why Cole’s 3.0 WAR is tops in the league and shows just how dominant and valuable he has been.
In 11 starts, the Yankees star has a 1.78 ERA, a 2.16 expected ERA (according to quantity and quality of contact allowed), a 1.72 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), and a 2.26 expected FIP.
He has been outstanding, and a big reason why the Yankees are still relatively close to the Tampa Bay Rays and Boston Red Sox.
It’s very hard for a pitcher to win the MVP award, since lots of voters already think hurlers have a prize for themselves in the form of the Cy Young award.
But Cole has a legitimate case, as he has been, without a question, the most dominant pitcher in the AL.
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays
For years, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. hit the ball extremely hard, but usually on the ground, limiting the damage he could inflict to pitchers.
A lot of hard work during this offseason both in the cage and with his physique has led to a breakout season for the son of the Hall of Fame outfielder.
He is currently hitting .323/.430/.634 with 16 home runs and 42 RBI, and has a good shot at the Triple Crown if he keeps this up for the entire season.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays (16) pic.twitter.com/xdxUvjdGmv
— MLB HR Videos (@MLBHRVideos) May 25, 2021
Only a handful of players have won the MLB Triple Crown, and the last one was prime Miguel Cabrera.
Not coincidentally, Guerrero Jr.’s offensive profile has a lot of Miggy: the ability to hit for a high average with enough power to hit doubles and home runs almost at will.
If the season ended today, Vladdy Jr. would be a prime candidate to win the AL MVP award.
1. Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
The Los Angeles Angels may not be good, but Shohei Ohtani has been dominant enough that he has the best MVP case among AL players.
Pitchers aren’t supposed to be good hitters, and batters usually have no business pitching a ball with any semblance of control or speed.
Yet Ohtani, defying all expectations and then some, is among the league leaders in home runs hit and, additionally, is pitching like a frontline starter.
With the bat in his hands, Ohtani has a .263/.330/.597 line with 15 home runs and 40 RBI.
Ohtani conectó una ⚾ que alcanzó las 117 MPH. 😳
— ESPN Deportes (@ESPNDeportes) May 26, 2021
On the mound, the young phenomenon has a 4.16 ERA with a better yet 3.88 FIP.
In 47 innings on the mound for the Angels, Ohtani has struck out 11.82 batters per nine frames, although with a significant number of walks (5.22 per nine).
Oh, and his seven stolen bases lead the Angels.
He is an above-average hitter, pitcher, and base stealer.
He can do it all on a baseball field, and the numbers say he deserves the MVP award.