This year’s MVPs are: Mike Trout of the Angels and Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers, for a sweep by the two Los Angeles franchises.
On the AL side, it was a close race between Trout and the Astros’ Alex Bregman (which flipping autocorrect keeps trying to change to Bergman). Both of them were either first or second on every ballot. The third finalist was Marcus Semien of the A’s.
Trout had 8.3 bWAR and 45 homers (the most homers in a season of his career). He slashed .291/.439/.695. The OBP and slugging percentage led the AL, as did his 185 OPS+. He edged Bregman despite missing the final 19 games of the season due to a Morton’s Neuroma (those hurt y’all).
Bregman had 8.4 bWAR and 41 homers. He slashed .296/.423/.592 with a 162 OPS+. His 119 walks paced the AL (Walks…paced…I kill me.)
Semien wasn’t far off the pace either with 8.1 bWAR. He hit 33 homers, slashed .287/.369/.527 with a 138 OPS+.
For the NL, Bellinger and Christian Yelich (Brewers) were neck and neck most of the season, but Yelich missed the final month due to injury. Anthony Rendon of the Nationals came in third—he’ll find solace in his World Series ring and the fact he’s about to hit the free agency lottery.
Cody Bellinger amassed 9.0 bWAR with 47 home runs. He slashed .305/.406/.629 with a 169 OPS+. He was also outstanding on defense and was rewarded with a Gold Glove last week.
Yelich posted 7.1 bWAR, 44 homers, and a 179 OPS+. He slashed .329/.429/.671…leading the NL in each.
Rendon had 6.3 bWAR, 34 homers, and a 153 OPS+. He slashed .319/.412/.598.
Now, back to Mike Trout. Still not yet 30, with 9 years in MLB, he’s already guaranteed to reach the Hall of Fame as long as he doesn’t suddenly retire before next season begins (10 years are required for eligibility). He just picked up his third MVP award, becoming the 10th player with that many, joining: Jimmie Foxx, Albert Pujols, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Alex Rodriguez, Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, and Mike Schmidt. Only one player has more—Barry Bonds (7).
Trout has 72.5 career WAR—already 57th all time among position players. He just passed Derek Jeter (72.4) at the end of his season. He is under contract for 10 more years. If he’s in effect an average major leaguer over those years, averaging 2 WAR/year, he’d have 92.5 at the end of his contract—30th all time among position players. He’d pass (among others): George Brett, Ken Griffey Jr, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Charlie Gehringer, Jeff Bagwell, Brooks Robinson, Joe DiMaggio, Robin Yount, Ozzie Smith, Paul Molitor, Johnny Bench, Luke Appling, Reggie Jackson, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, and Paul Waner. More likely is he has a Mike Trout season next year—if he has 7.5 WAR next year for an even 80 after 10 years in the majors, he will have passed everyone I just listed after Charlie Gehringer. With reasonable health as he ages, we are looking at an inner circle Hall of Famer. Let’s all enjoy watching him while we can. (Speaking of inner circle Hall of Famers, eventually, the only active player with more WAR than Trout is Pujols.)