As we enter into the final month of the regular baseball season, it’s time to start paying attention to who is in the running for both the American League and National League MVP Award. Last years winners are particularly noteworthy. In the NL,
Ryan Braun won the award, but was then handed a 50-game suspension after testing positive for PEDs. However, he successfully appealed the case on grounds that his urine sample was mishandled, and the suspension was revoked. Over in
the AL, pitcher Justin Verlander was voted MVP, after already having been given the AL Cy Young award, bringing up the debate of whether or not a pitcher should be allowed to win the MVP award (more on that another time). So, who is in the running this year?

American League

Mike Trout

It’s hard to argue that the 22 year-old from New Jersey should win the Rookie of the Year Award. But he is also easily in the running for the AL MVP Award. Only two players in MLB history have won both in the same year- Ichiro Suzuki with the Seattle Mariners in 2001, and Fred Lynn with the Red Sox in 1975. Currently batting .340, with 25 HRs, 74 RBIs and 41 SBs, he is far more valuable than that other new Angel this year, Albert Pujols, and far cheaper than his $12 Million salary. Trout is consistent, a clutch hitter (batting .375 with RISP and .400 with the bases loaded), and leading the league in average. If his only issue is a slightly high number of strikeouts, what’s not to love?

Miguel Cabrera

Despite being a 7 time All-Star and a consistent MVP contender, Miguel Cabrera has never won the MVP Award. He has hit at least 30 HRs eight out of the past nine years, hit at least 100 RBIs every year of his career, and his career BA is .318.
Honestly the poor guy should have won last year, having ended the season batting .344, with 30 HRs, 105 RBIs, 197 hits, and a whopping 48 doubles. I’m sure he thinking his teammate Verlander deserved it, but what does the guy have to do to come in second? I am bewildered by the fact that Jacoby Ellsbury came in second. Perhaps this is finally his year. Batting .325 with 32 HRs and 107 RBIs, he could even also win the Triple Crown Award. If Cabrera doesn’t deserve it, then who does?

Derek Jeter

I have no doubt that many will argue that Josh Hamilton deserves this third spot. The guy has hit 36 HRs (although with 123 strike outs I may add), and his 111 RBIs and .290 average aren’t bad either. But his 2010 season, when he did win the MVP award was a better year for him, and his continued lack of consistency is problematic as well. At 38 years old, Derek Jeter has never won the MVP, although like Cabrera, he has consistently been in the running (losing out to Justin Morneau in 2006 and Joe Mauer and Mark Texeira in second in 2009- those pesky Twins). The captain is batting .321, easily leading the entire Major League in hits with 176, and is even able to knock in 14 HRs. This die-hard Yankees fan knows that Jeter is never going to have another season like this. And so, this is probably his last chance to win it. Even if his numbers don’t match up to that of a 21 year old and a 29 year old, Jeter should 100% be seriously considered.

National League

Andrew McCutchen

25 year-old Andrew McCutchen is currently having the best season of his four year career, and he is one reason why the Pirates are worth mentioning (and not in the same sentence as, “the team with the worst record in MLB is….”) With Melky Cabrera suspended, he now has the best average in the NL, batting .344, with 24 HRs, 79 RBIs, 165 hits, and 15 SBs. If there is anything to complain about, it is somewhat high number of strikeouts and the fact that he noticeably struggles in high-pressure situations (his average dips with men on or in scoring position and two outs). But, McCuthchen is a solid all-around hitter and defensive player, and that is all there is to it. It is not always easy being a Pirates fan (at least they have the Steelers), but this year, McCutchen has made it a little bit easier.

Buster Posey

A couple weeks ago, the Giants player in contention for the MVP may have been Melky Cabrera. But his 50-game suspension has made Buster Posey a no-brainer (and he probably would have been regardless of Melky). After winning the Rookie of the Year Award in 2010, Posey suffered a season ending leg injury following a May 25th, 2011 collision at the plate. But he returned this season better than ever. Not only did he catch Matt Cain’s June 13th, 2012 perfect game, but he is also batting .327 with 19 HRs, 80 RBIs, and 135 hits. As of right now it is a close race with McCutchen, whose number of hits and average are better. But with a month left, there is absolutely no reason why Posey cannot catch up to or surpass him.

Ryan Braun

Again?! Well, it’s hard to leave off someone who is leading the league in HRs with 35, tied for first in the league for RBIs with 90, batting .309, and has 20 SBs. So he is not quite as good as last year, but he is also working with quite a lower amount of testosterone (debatably of course), and, he is still having a stellar year and hell, a stellar career. He has hit over 30 HRs and 100 RBIs every year but one, and consistently had an impressive number of hits. It is hard to sing the praises of someone who was formerly accused of cheating and who dubiously and narrowly avoided punishment, but numbers do not lie. I doubt he will be handed this again, but regardless, he is impossible to ignore.

Who do you think will win the MVP races? Let us know in the comments!

Author Bio: Michelle Rubin is an avid sports lover, who’s favorite sport is baseball. She also writes for the sports blog The League Insiders.