MLB: Every AL Contender's Most Valuable Player

Yossi Feins@TheRaysRanterContributor IIISeptember 16, 2012

MLB: Every AL Contender's Most Valuable Player

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    As the American League postseason race winds down to an exciting finish, eight teams remain competitive with hopes of playing in October. 

    All eight teams have at least one player on their team who has been a huge reason why they're in the playoff picture here in mid-September.

    Let's take a look at the most valuable player from each team.

New York Yankees: Robinson Cano

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    Stat Line: .297/.368/.534, .380 wOBA, 77 RBI, 30 HR, 6.0 WAR, 139 wRC+

    Enjoying another terrific season with the Yankees, Robinson Cano has probably been New York's best all-around player this season. It's also fair to say that he's the club's most valuable player, as his WAR of 6.0 is by far the highest on the team.

    As you can see from the stats above, Cano has hit the ball very well in the middle of the order this year for the Yankees, producing plenty of runs as well as frequently getting on base.

    Defensively he's been just as stellar, having yet another Gold Glove-caliber season at second base. He's posted a UZR of 7.2, a DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) of 14 and a strong .991 fielding percentage.

Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones

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    Stat Line: .285/.333/.505, .360 wOBA, 74 RBI, 29 HR, 14 SB, 4.2 WAR, 126 wRC+

    Adam Jones has been unarguably the Orioles' best offensive player this season, and probably their best and most valuable player overall as well.

    When healthy, starter Jason Hammel makes a good case for that title, but he simply hasn't been able to avoid injury since the All-Star break.

    There are a handful of toolsy and talented centerfielders across the MLB, but not many have been as impressive as Jones in 2012.

Tampa Bay Rays: Ben Zobrist

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    Stat Line: .265/.371/.457, .354 wOBA, 62 RBI, 16 HR, 14 SB, 4.8 WAR, 129 wRC+

    Ben Zobrist has been one of baseball's most valuable players ever since 2009, and for obvious reasons: extreme versatility.

    No player in Major Leagues can play seven positions as well as Zobrist does while producing offensively the way he does. He's simply an incredibly valuable player to any team.

    Just to give an idea of how much of Zobrist's value comes from the field, his excellent UZR of 9.9 ranks highest among any AL East player.

Detroit Tigers: Justin Verlander

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    Stat Line: 14-8, 2.82 ERA, 9.03 K/9, 3.00 FIP, 6.1 WAR, 217.1 IP

    To nobody's surprise, Justin Verlander is having another Cy Young caliber year. The man is the reason why his Detroit Tigers even have a decent shot at making the playoffs right now.

    Besides his outstanding numbers, what makes him so valuable is the fact that he gives a rotation that's struggled throughout the season a consistently good and efficient starter.

    Verlander leads all of baseball in innings pitched and WAR, so he makes great case for MLB's most valuable pitcher, let alone Detroit's team MVP.

Chicago White Sox: Chris Sale

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    Stat Line: 17-6, 2.78 ERA, 8.9 K/9, 3.24 FIP, 4.5 WAR, 175.0 IP

    A pleasant surprise in Chicago, young Chris Sale has led the White Sox's rotation with a tremendous 2012 season. He's a huge reason why the Sox are in first place right now, and the numbers really tell the story for him. 

    The 23-year-old Cy Young candidate has broken out into one of baseball's most dangerous starters despite never having started one big-league game before this season.

    If Sale continues to pitch well, Chicago will have a great 1-2 punch with him and Jake Peavy for the postseason.

Texas Rangers: Adrian Beltre

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    Stat Line: .319/.357/.558, .383 wOBA, 92 RBI, 32 HR, 5.7 WAR, 139 wRC+

    Adrian Beltre has had yet another terrific season with the AL's best Texas Rangers. Offensively, former MVP Josh Hamilton is the team's most valuable player, but Beltre's Gold Glove defense at the hot corner gives him the edge. 

    When not raking the baseball in the middle of the sport's most dangerous lineup, Beltre is playing outstanding defense at third.

    The stats above really say it all for Beltre, who looks to take home his first MVP at the end of the season.

Oakland Athletics: Josh Reddick

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    Stat Line: .248/.312/.470, .334 wOBA, 75 RBI, 28 HR, 3.8 WAR, 114 wRC+

    Unlike all the other AL contenders, the Oakland A's don't really have any standout star players on their roster. Most can agree, though, that their most valuable player this season has been outfielder Josh Reddick.

    The 25-year-old slugger has enjoyed a breakout year with Oakland after being traded from Boston in the offseason. What's made him so valuable is his impressive power.

    On a team in which the biggest weakness is power, Josh Reddick has hit 28 homers. He's the only one on the team with 20+ homers at the moment.

    Defense is another reason why Reddick's the team's most valuable player. His extremely strong arm makes him one of the best right fielders in the game. His outfield assist total of 14 is the second highest in the majors.

Los Angeles Angels: Mike Trout

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    Stat Line: .331/.396/.566, .423 wOBA (1st in MLB), 77 RBI, 27 HR, 45 SB (1st in MLB), 116 R (1st in MLB), 8.8 WAR (1st in MLB), 173 wRC+ (1st in MLB)

    Mike Trout is probably having the best rookie season in baseball history, and will likely earn an AL MVP award at the end of the season at the young age of 21. This guy is a whole different level of phenom. 

    Not only is he the Angels' and AL's most valuable player, best he's also all of baseball's most valuable player.

    As you can see from the unreal numbers, most can agree he's the best offensive player in the league. Defensively he may be the best, too, as he's posted a UZR of 10.4 and a DRS of 26 while making highlight-reel play after highlight-reel play in center field throughout the year.