2013 MLB Most Valuable Player Award Stock Watch
As we approach the midway point of the 2013 MLB season, a good deal has already been established as far as which players are in for big seasons and which teams look ready to contend for a postseason spot.
That said, there is still a ton of baseball to be played. If Chase Headley and the Oakland Athletics showed us anything last year, it's that players and teams can kick things up a notch or two after the All-Star break.
Predicting who will take home the season's biggest awards is a fun exercise throughout the season. What follows is an updated look at the MVP picture in both the American League and National League.
1. 1B Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles offense has been one of the best in the league this season, and leading the way is breakout star Chris Davis. He currently leads all of baseball with 27 home runs and a 1.134 OPS. Davis is also hitting .336 with 69 RBI and a .410 on-base percentage.
The slugger never lived up to expectations in Texas and was dealt to the Orioles at the deadline in 2011 along with Tommy Hunter for reliever Koji Uehara. Since then, he has become a prime example of what a change of scenery can do for a struggling young player. He hit a career-high 33 home runs last season and has been a force so far this year.
It looks as though he'll fly past the 33 home runs he hit last season, and while it is tempting to call these numbers fluky, he is in his age-27 season. This could very well be the start of a solid run as one of the top run-producers in the AL for Davis.
2. 3B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
The reigning AL MVP and Triple Crown winner, Cabrera has been phenomenal once again this year. He leads the MLB in batting average (.368) and RBI (74), and he is tied for second in the AL in home runs (20).
A strong case can certainly made for him taking the top spot here, but Davis has closed the gap in RBI, has a slugging percentage nearly 100 points higher and is on an absolute tear right now with five home runs and 12 RBI in the past week. As such, Cabrera slides to "1A" on this list for the time being.
The smart money is still on Cabrera taking the award home when all is said and done, as few would argue that he's not the best hitter on the planet right now. He has a very real chance of becoming the first player to ever win back-to-back Triple Crown awards if he can stay healthy.
3. DH David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox
Though his season didn't start until April 20, as he continued to rehab the Achilles injury that ended his season last year, Ortiz has been a force since returning to the Boston lineup. He's hitting .306 with 15 home runs, 54 RBI and a .386 OBP.
The 37-year-old was amazing last season before his injury, hitting .318 with a 1.026 OPS and 23 home runs in 324 at-bats. Given his age, keeping him healthy for the full season may be a challenge, but for the time being, he appears to still be tapping into the fountain of youth.
The Red Sox have been a pleasant surprise this season, as they finished last in the AL East in 2012 when they went 69-93. Ortiz has been a big reason why, and to this point, he has to be considered the MVP for one of the best teams in the AL.
4. 3B Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
The Rays offense has been dramatically improved this season. While the additions of Kelly Johnson and James Loney have helped, a healthy Evan Longoria has been among the biggest reasons for the turnaround.
He was limited to just 74 games last season with a hamstring injury, and that made it clear just how valuable he was to his team's success. The Rays were 47-27 with him in the lineup and 43-45 without him.
He's the face of the franchise at this point, and after signing a six-year, $100 million extension in November, he'll now be in a Rays uniform through the 2022 season. The Rays have been inconsistent at times this season, and their pitching needs to get on track if they hope to contend, but a Longoria-led lineup should give them a chance.
He's currently hitting .303 with 16 home runs, 46 RBI and a .361 OBP.
5. CF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
The Angels have been among the biggest disappointments in baseball so far this season. Superstar sluggers Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton have not lived up to the lofty expectations that they entered the season with.
Amid the struggles, Trout has continued to play at an incredibly high level. He has avoided the dreaded sophomore slump following what may well have been the greatest rookie season in MLB history last year.
Still just 21 years old, Trout is the game's premier power-speed threat right now, as he currently has 12 home runs and 16 steals. The Angels' struggles bump him down this list, but he should be a perennial contender for this award for the next decade-plus.
1. C Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Though he may still lose out to Buster Posey for the starting spot on the NL All-Star team, Molina is without a doubt the best catcher in baseball right now. He has also been the top offensive performer on baseball's best team.
His .364 batting average leads the NL, and he's hitting .422/.476/.678 over the past month with 20 RBI. If those numbers weren't impressive enough, he's hitting .403 with runners in scoring position this year and has struck out just 25 times in 261 at-bats.
He has always been incredibly valuable because of his leadership on the field, defensive skills and ability to handle a pitching staff. With the added offensive punch over the past two seasons, there may be no player in baseball who means more to his team's success than Molina.
2. 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Diamondbacks
The Diamondbacks had as busy an offseason as any team in baseball. They looked to shake things up after a disappointing 2012 campaign that followed a surprise NL West title in 2011.
With outfielders Justin Upton and Chris Young traded and catcher Miguel Montero struggling, Goldschmidt has emerged as the team's top offensive threat in just his second full season in the league.
After an impressive 48-game audition in 2011, he hit .286/.359/.490 with 20 home runs and 18 steals last season and entered this year primed to break out as a 25-year-old. He's done just, hitting .306 with 19 home runs, 65 RBI and a .384 OBP.
3. 1B Joey Votto, Cincinnati Reds
Though they trail the Cardinals in the NL Central, the Reds have been one of baseball's best teams so far this season. Their potent offense has once again been led by Votto.
His .441 on-base percentage is tops in the National League, and while he has been criticized by some for his overly patient approach at the plate, the performances of Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce behind him have allowed him to focus on getting on base.
While Goldschmidt is giving him a run for his money, he'll likely get the starting nod at first base in the All-Star Game once again. His power numbers aren't eye-popping (13 home runs, 37 RBI), but there may be no one in baseball with a better approach at the plate, as his .330 batting average would suggest.
4. LF Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies
One of the biggest surprises of the season has been the Rockies strong play. While they have fallen off after a blistering start, they remain just four games back in the NL West at 37-38 overall.
Whether their pitching will allow them to contend all season remains to be seen, but they certainly have the offensive firepower to make some noise in the NL West. The duo of Gonzalez and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki has been fantastic, even if the latter is having trouble staying healthy.
Tulowitzki (.347/.413/.635, 16 HR) has the better numbers right now, but a broken rib will keep him out of action for at least the next month. Gonzalez has been terrific in his own right, as he leads the NL with 21 home runs and ranks second to Tulowitzki with a 1.005 OPS, and he's done much of his damage on the road.
5. C Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
The reigning NL MVP, Posey has once again been an integral piece of the Giants offensive attack this season, leading the team in RBI and ranking second to Marco Scutaro (.331) in batting average. Posey is currently hitting .313 with eight home runs, 42 RBI and a .388 OBP.
He has gotten much more help from his supporting cast this season, as the Giants have actually been better offensively than they have been on the mound to this point. That said, his contributions from the premium offensive position that is catcher make him that much more valuable.
The Giants gave him a huge nine-year, $167 million extension in the offseason, and he has been well worth that to this point in his career. He bounced back better than anyone could have expected last year following a broken ankle, and he continues to be a superstar.
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