The race for the 2014 AL MVP award

The AL MVP award is the award given out to the most valuable player in the American League. We take a look at the five players we think have a shot at winning the award, and who we think should win it.

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The 2014 MLB season has been full of all sorts of surprises for fans of the game; for example, the Nationals and Orioles winning their respective divisions or the Seattle Mariners contending for a playoff spot. Those surprising team performances have been led by surprising performances by players on those rosters. All of three of the previously mentioned squads have viable candidates for the AL MVP award.

The entire American League has produced several deserving candidates for its MVP award. There are so many deserving candidates to chose from when it comes to handing out the award; for example, Miguel Cabrera — the two time MVP — has the 12th highest WAR in the AL.

We at Sports with Neil have decided to tackle figuring out who is going to win the award. For this article, pitchers don’t qualify for the MVP award because they already have their own award (which we also will take a look at). The field of potential award winners will be narrowed to five position players, and then the winner will be picked from the “final five”.

THE CANDIDATES

Robinson Cano, 2B Seattle Mariners: Cano’s decision to except 10-year $240 million contract from the Seattle Mariners was widely ridiculed in the off season because the M’s hadn’t challenged for a playoff spot in a decade. Fast forward to September, and the Mariners are very much in the playoff race and Cano’s production — and leadership — have been a huge reason for that. In 617 plate appearances Cano has hit .321/.387/.466 while striking out in only 10.4% of his PAs, and walking in 9.1% of them. As a result, he has been worth 5.2 wins this season…that’s the 10th highest position player WAR in the American League.

Mike Trout, CF Los Angeles Angles of Anaheim: Trout has finished as the runner up to Cabrera for this award two years in a row. This season, Trout has simply out preformed Cabrera, and everyone else, in every single statistical category. Trout has hit .291/.381/.565 this season, his power number has been fueled by hitting fly balls in 47.2% of his 670 plate appearances — 17.4% of those fly balls have turned into home runs. His high HR/FB ratio has helped fuel an insane ISO of .274. All of these fancy numbers mean that Trout has been worth 7.8 wins for the Angels in 2014; that’s the highest WAR in MLB.

Alex Gordon, 3B Kansas City Royals: The Kansas City Royals are competing for a playoff birth for the second year in a row, and Gordon has been a big part of that. Gordon’s production in the line-up has been a major part of the team’s on-field success. Gordon has hit .270/.352/.440 in 602 plate appearances this season, his wRC+ of 124 shows how good a hitter he is. His numbers have benefited from posting the lowest strike out percentage (18.9%) of his major league career. As a result, he has posted the third best WAR in the AL at 6.1.

Kyle Seager, 3B Seattle Mariners: Seager was not expected to be an MVP candidate prior to the season, but the third basemen is exactly that with his 2014 performance. Not only has he managed to put together an MVP type of season, he has done it when the Mariners needed another bat to go along with Cano’s. The third basemen has hit .275/.343/.466 this season, recorded a wRC+ of 131 — which is six points higher than Trout’s — and a wOBA+ of .355. No matter how you try to analyze it, those are all MVP type numbers. His career year is helping to keep the M’s in the playoff hunt. Also, Seager has the fifth highest WAR in the AL at 5.5.

Adam Jones, CF Baltimore Orioles: Jones has played an integral part in the Baltimore Orioles AL East championship season. The center fielder has hit .286/.320/.477, with an wRC+ of 117 this season. His defensive numbers are even more impressive, as his UZR is 9.0 and his UZR/150 is at 9.9 — those are really good numbers. Those numbers mean that Jones has been worth 5.3 wins.

THE PICK

The 2014 AL MVP is obviously going to be Mike Trout. He has been worth 7.8 wins for the Angels, and has produced at an exceptional level since he joined the team nearly three years ago. There really isn’t any other player — including pitchers — who has being as valuable as Trout has been this season.

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