This year’s MVP awards told two different stories: the slugger who guided his team to a historic World Series win and the do-everything outfielder whose individual dominance couldn’t be overlooked despite playing for a fourth-place team.
Chicago Cubs slugger Kris Bryant gets the trophy in the National League, where there was little doubt he’d win. And Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout got the surprising win in the AL since his team finished below .500 and Mookie Betts of the Boston Red Sox also had a strong MVP case.
In the NL, Bryant collected 29 of 30 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Daniel Murphy of the Washington Nationals finished second while Corey Seager of the Los Angeles Dodgers finished third. Bryant is the fourth player to win the Rookie of the Year and MVP in consecutive years.
In the AL, Trout earned 19 of 30 first-place votes. Betts finished second with nine first-place votes. Jose Altuve of the Houston Astros finished third. It’s Trout’s second MVP award. He’s the first player in 13 years to win it on a losing team.
Despite the struggles of the Los Angeles Angels this season, Trout led the AL in Wins Above Replacement (with 9.4) for the fifth straight season. Betts — won a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove this season — finished second in the AL with a 7.8 WAR.
Betts had a legit MVP case too. Many even viewed him as the favorite. Trout’s and Betts’ stats were similar in many places, the big question was whether you think RBIs or on-base percentage is more important. Betts drove in 13 more runs than Trout (113 vs. 100), but Trout had a big advantage in OBP (.441 vs. .363).
Voters made the decision to give the vote to Trout this year, which should also be viewed as a big endorsement for advanced stats and the analysts who use them, who would tell you Trout should have four MVPs by now.
Here’s the full AL voting breakdown:
On the NL side, Bryant graduated to the MVP level in his first full season, following up a Rookie of the Year campaign in 2015. Bryant led the N.L. in runs scored (121), while ranking third in home runs (39), sixth in RBIs (102) and first in WAR (8.2). He’s the first Cubs player to win the award since Sammy Sosa in 1998.
Bryant was a clear favorite for the award all season, helping lead the Cubs to a league-best 103 wins during the regular season. He was a cornerstone offensively, and also defensively, spending time primarily at third base, but also at first base, left field, right field and even center field. That type of versatility for a player of his size (6-foot-5, 230 pounds) and ability, is almost unheard of and really helped separate him from the pack.
Set to turn 25 in January, it’s scary to think about the potential that still exists with Bryant. Granted, he’s about as well-rounded a player as you’ll find at his age, but once the few kinks that exist are worked out (and perhaps once he settles into full-time position), he could be poised to go on a historic tear on the field and as an MVP award winner.
Here’s the full NL voting breakdown: