It looks like
Skynet Google has already decided who will win the American League’s MVP award, despite a quarter of the season left on the schedule.
— For The Win (@ForTheWin) August 14, 2014
It is a fitting choice. Trout leads the league in wins above replacement (5.7) and weighted runs created plus (169), which measures how a player’s weighted runs created compares with league average after controlling for park effects. Plus, he is batting .294 with 27 home runs.
Over in the National League, the field is still trying to find a front-runner.
A stint on the disabled list by Pirates center fielder Andrew McCutchen for a fractured rib and cartilage injury in the left side puts a hold on his ability to repeat as MVP. He was hitting .311 with a .411 on-base percentage and .536 slugging with 17 homers and 17 steals.
Injury takes Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki, who will have surgery on his left hip, out of the running as well. Tulowitzki was a fringe candidate, but did lead the league in hitting (.340), on-base percentage (.432), slugging (.603) to go along with 21 home runs and 52 RBI.
The Marlins Giancarlo Stanton is second in WAR (4.7) and has the stats voters love: 31 home runs, 82 RBI and a league-leading .952 on-base plus slugging.
Clayton Kershaw’s candidacy is starting to gain some momentum. Already the favorite to win the Cy Young, Kershaw’s majestic season (14-2 with a MLB-leading 1.78 ERA, 163 strikeouts with just 19 walks in 136 1/3 innings plus five complete games for a playoff contender) could make him a threat in a field with no clear favorite, similar to Justin Verlander’s win in 2011.
But allow me to throw one more name out for consideration: Nationals’ infielder Anthony Rendon.
Rendon is seventh in WAR (4.4), the third most valuable base runner in the league (5.8 Base Running runs) and has been an above-average fielder (five defensive runs saved and a 1.4 Ultimate Zone Rating) for a first-place club that, as of today, has the highest probability of winning the World Series.
He has also improved his hitting from last season.
It’s always nice to see a young player succeed without any help from a BABIP spike and Rendon’s is only two points higher than it was a year ago. He trimmed his decent strikeout rate by a point or two, but the big difference offensively is his increase in power. He’s putting the ball in the air a little more often and that’s leading to more extra base hits and a fifty point increase in his ISO.
Rendon is the best all-around player on the best team in baseball. That’s got to be worth considering.