American League: OF Mike Trout, Anaheim Angels (I refuse to call them “Los Angeles”)
No real argument here. Mike Trout has been the best overall player in baseball the last two years really. The only argument would be, as always, what does “Valuable” mean? Once again, Trout was on an awful team that didn’t come close to making the playoffs, so what does it matter if he put up the best numbers? I get that argument, but since there is no “Best Player in the American League” I can’t fault the win. Trout brought value to his team, he can’t help it that no one else on his team did.
Mookie Betts had an amazing year for the Red Sox, who made the ALCS, and Jose Altuve put up impressive stats, yet again, on an underachieving Houston Astros team. While both exceeded some of Trout’s numbers, they didn’t have it across the board. I think the one thing to takeaway here is the age of the finalists: Trout, 25; Betts, 24; Altuve, 26. AL Pitchers better be scared.
National League: 3B Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs
Has anyone had a better first two seasons in MLB? In Kris Bryant’s first year the Cubs make the NLCS and he wins NL Rookie of the Year. The second season, the Cubs win their first World Series in 108 years and he wins NL MVP. Bryant was clutch and put up some amazing numbers for a second-year guy.
In all fairness though I think Daniel Murphy had a more amazing year for the Nationals. At 31, coming over on a big contract from the Mets, he lived up to it for sure (.347 BA, .595 SLG, .985 OPS, 25 HR, 104 RBI). Definitely proving he wasn’t just playing for a contract year. Also, Cory Seager had a great, first full season with the Dodgers, and was rewarded for it (see below). Again though, Bryant and Seager are both 22, pretty scary.