Here we are with less than 20 games left in the regular season. The Kansas City Royals have locked down the Central while the other two divisions and by extension the Wildcard teams are still in flux. The Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees are battling to the wire in the East while the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros are fighting for the West crown. It is a safe bet that each loser will be a Wildcard team. The Los Angeles Angels are still alive but need a lot of luck. With that it in mind it is also the stretch run for many of Major League Baseball’s top awards. What better time to see who is in the driver’s seat and what players still have an outside shot to capture performance bonuses and awards that cement their 2015 seasons for posterity. Let’s take a look at the AL MVP award race with roughly 20 games left in the 2015 baseball season.
The Man to Beat
It is hard not to peg him as the front-runner at this point in the season. Donaldson is leading the AL in RBI (119) and Runs scored (109). He is also third in home runs (38), fourth in OPS (.950), second in Slugging (.581), and top-10 in Batting Average. With runners in scoring position he is hitting over .380 which shows that playing the AL East has not been too big for him. Add to that a WAR of 8.0 and leading the league in total bases then you get the recipe for an MVP award. The August slump of Mike Trout did not hurt either.
In the Hunt
I picked Trout as the MVP at the beginning of the year and said the only thing that could beat him was himself. That might prove to be the case. The poor August of 2015, the worst month of his career could be the dagger that keeps him from back-to-back awards. He hit only one home run in August and his below .220 for the month. Even with that he is near the top in most categories that matter. He is top-5 in home runs (36), runs scored (90), Slugging (.576), and OPS (.972). He also holds a very impressive WAR of 7.6.
The Rest of the Top-5
3 – Lorenzo Cain, Kansas City Royals
The best all-around player on the American League’s best team puts him in the MVP conversation. He is stellar defensively and is second in the AL in stolen bases (27). Add to that his .308 average, 31 doubles and 95 runs scored and you have an impressive season. It’s just not quite good enough for the hardware in 2015.
4 – Nelson Cruz, Seattle Mariners
Some experts were worried about the move to the pitchers friendly ballpark in Seattle, but Nelson Cruz has kicked that idea to the curb. He leads MLB in home runs (42), is hitting .310, with 88 RBI and 83 runs scored. It is a solid season but when you do not player on a contender and have a history then it makes it hard to top the MVP list.
5 – Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
He brought the power back this season, tied with Cruz for the MLB lead in home runs (42). He is also second in the AL in RBI (107) and top-5 in Slugging (.553). But he is not on a contender and only managed to his .262 this year. Solid season but not good enough.