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The top five American League MVP candidates

Now that the MLB season is in full swing with the All-Star Game on the horizon, the MVP race for each league is beginning to heat up. The candidates for MVP listed below all come from the three powerhouse squads in the American League: Boston Red Sox,  New York Yankees and Houston Astros.

 

5. Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

Despite getting off to a slow start, Judge and the Yankees currently sport a 40-18 record and sit atop the Al East standings by a half-game over the Red Sox. With Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton getting off to awful start at the plate — not to mention the Yankees getting bit by the injury bug early on — Judge has been able to keep the Yankees’ winning ways going with his power at the plate and timely hitting.

Judge is currently hitting .271 with 17 home runs and 44 RBI on the season. Judge is a big reason why the Yankees currently sit second in the MLB in runs scored, only five runs behind Boston. It’s remarkable the Yankees are in this spot given Stanton’s unbelievable struggles, Sanchez currently batting .201, and Didi Gregorius struggling in May after a torrid start.

4. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

Due to a scorching-hot start, Justin Verlander is once again in the conversation for Cy Young Award honors, if not MVP, this season. In 2011, Verlander won 24 games for the Detroit Tigers with a 2.40 earned run average and 250 strikeouts to earn the American League MVP. After nearly seven years, a couple bumps in the road and a trade to Houston, Verlander is better than ever.

Verlander boasts a 7-2 record with a mind-boggling 1.24 earned-run average and 104 total strikeouts. Verlander is a big reason why the Astros are currently the top pitching team in the MLB with a staff ERA of 2.89. The next closest is the Washington Nationals, with a staff ERA of 3.16.

3. JD Martinez, Boston Red Sox

After a red-hot 43-21 start to the season for the Red Sox, the team currently sits as one of the top teams in baseball heading into the summer. One of the biggest reasons for that success is due to the offseason acquisition of former Tigers and Astros left fielder JD Martinez. Martinez was a free agent much longer than anyone anticpated, signing with the Red Sox in late February after patiently waiting for the offer he desired.

Despite some skepticism over giving Martinez such a large contract, the Red Sox paid him, which has paid dividends. Martinez is currently hitting .314 with 20 home runs and 52 RBI on the season. Those 20 round-trippers are good for first Major League Baseball with Mike Trout slightly behind at 19. Martinez is a huge reason why the Red Sox top the league in runs scored despite considerable struggles from the bottom of their lineup.

2. Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels 

Over the past seven years, Mike Trout has become the poster child for consistent excellence at the plate. Trout hits both for a high average and power, making him one of the deadliest hitters in baseball. This year has been no different for the Angels slugger. Trout is currently hitting .305 with 19 home runs at 39 RBI.

Trout’s power currently puts him at second behind JD Martinez for the major-league home-run lead. Highly due to Trout’s presence in the middle of the lineup, the Angels are currently ninth in the MLB in offense and only 4.5 games back of the division-leading Seattle Mariners in what has turned out to be a stacked AL West.

1. Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

It truly takes greatness to outdo what Mike Trout and JD Martinez have done this season. Impressively, Mookie Betts is doing just that. Betts is clearly the most valuable bat in a lineup that is atop the MLB in runs scored on the season. His power presence out of the leadoff spot in the Red Sox lineup gives them an inevitable spark to every game.

Betts is hitting a league-best .359 on the season with 17 home runs and 37 RBI. Betts also brings consistent speed to the game just like Trout, who have both have 13 swiped bases. As it stands, it’s looking like a spitting image of 2016 when Trout and Betts were the top-two MVP candidates. Trout of course ended up narrowly winning that race with a vote margin of 356-311 to take the crown.