With the month of April behind us, the too-early contenders for Major League Baseball’s MVP awards are standing out.
The American League in particular has seen some stellar play so far.
Get @MikeTrout that cowboy hat! pic.twitter.com/smpyJvUTmy
— MLB (@MLB) May 1, 2022
However, some of those players are taking the league by surprise and are making a solid case for themselves early in the season.
Here is a look at the three most surprising players that have their name at the top of the AL MVP list heading into May.
3. J.P. Crawford
Since being one of the league’s top prospects in the minors, J.P. Crawford has never lived up to the hype.
However, this year seems to be a different story.
In the first month, Crawford has been the best shortstop in MLB.
JP Crawford sent that one way out pic.twitter.com/AHRxUp4p1q
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) April 28, 2022
The 27-year-old is hitting .375 with four home runs and 10 RBI, leading the young Seattle Mariners offensive attack.
Crawford is also tied with Mike Trout for first in WAR for the AL, charting a 1.9 in just 23 games.
While there is certainly a lot of baseball left to be played, Crawford has put himself in a good spot early in the season.
Keep looking out for his name as the summer hits and the true contenders for the MVP award become clearer.
2. Anthony Rizzo
When the New York Yankees signed Anthony Rizzo this offseason, they saw him as giving solid production at first base while providing Gold Glove quality defense.
They never expected him to be leading MLB in home runs.
However, in the first month of the season, Rizzo has accomplished just that.
Anthony Rizzo is the home run leader with #9! pic.twitter.com/Z6HYK5KZ8a
— Cubs Zone ™️ (@CubsZone) April 30, 2022
Led by a three home run performance against the Baltimore Orioles on April 27, Rizzo has already slugged nine in just 23 games.
He has also posted an OPS above 1.000 so far, while leading the league with five hit-by-pitches.
Not only this, but his peripheral numbers highlight major improvements.
While he is swinging and missing more, Rizzo is hitting the ball harder and in the air more consistently.
This is something that commonly translates into better power numbers and more production in general.
After a pair of down years in 2020 and 2021, this early resurgence is a good sign for the veteran.
This has put him in a good position to be in the early MVP conversation.
1. Taylor Ward
Arguably the most surprising name in MLB early in the season comes with the Los Angeles Angels.
No, his name is not Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani, but rather Taylor Ward.
The 28-year-old has finally found his stride in the majors, posting stellar numbers early in the year.
They let Taylor Ward get hot
— Dillard Barnhart (@BarnHasSpoken2) April 29, 2022
He has become the Angels’ leadoff hitter, thriving in the spot.
In 16 games, Ward leads MLB in both batting average (.390), on-base percentage (.493), and OPS (1.239).
On top of that, Ward has launched five home runs on his way to giving an unexpected boost to the team’s lineup.
While he has never had any production near this, he seems to be a different hitter in 2022.
It will be interesting to see whether he can hold up over the full course of the season, but his name will continue popping into the MVP conversation if he can.NEXT: Angels Insider Provides A Shohei Ohtani Injury Update For Tuesday