Young Guns & Cy Youngs: Tulo losing ground, Mike Trout back on top

We’ve returned to the MVP race this week. For last week’s Rookie of the Year review, click here. For the Cy Young review the week before, click here. Next week we’ll return to the Cy Young race. All stats are as of July 5th. The number in brackets represents a player’s ranking in the last review.


The AL MVP race has shuffled completely, with a new leader and three new contenders having emerged. The picture is even more exciting in the NL as Tulowitzki’s grip on the lead is slipping and the four behind him are neck-and-neck.


AL – Mike Trout back on top

1. (5.) Mike Trout, CF, LAA: .313/.406/.616, 20 HR, 63 RBI, 57 R, 10 SB

After finishing second to Miguel Cabrera each of the last two seasons, Trout is once again a top MVP contender, this time without Miggy straight on his heels. The 22-year-old had a rough May (by his standards at least), hitting just .263/.356/.495 but was brilliant in April and even better in June, culminating in another excellent season for the league’s best player. While his stolen base numbers are way down, his efficiency is not as he hasn’t been caught stealing once this season and is compensating for his diminished running game with a significant power boost.

2. (1.) Jose Bautista, RF, TOR: .301/.425/.529, 17 HR, 57 RBI, 56 R, 60 BB

Bautista went through a strange power outage in June, hitting just one home run and slugging a mere .414. He also missed a week due to a hamstring injury, and as such has lost his position as the AL MVP leader. Still, he is in the midst of an excellent season and leading a surprisingly strong Blue Jays team.

3. (-) Jose Altuve, 2B, HOU: .342/.381/.444, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 43 R, 37 SB

Of all the players who could have been predicted to contend for this award, the Astros pint-sized second basemen would be among the last. He was a fine player prior to this season, but little more. This season, however, he is set to destroy his career highs in every meaningful offensive category and leads the AL in BA, hits (with 121) and stolen bases. Last week, he stole two bases in four consecutive games. He has been hitting .378 since the end of April, clearly an unsustainable pace but even modest regression would still make Altuve one of the best players in the American League so far.

4. (-) Edwin Encarnacion, 1B, TOR: .278/.369/.593, 26 HR, 69 RBI, 57 R

After slumping through April, the Jays slugger has been on a tear. He hit 16 home runs in May and another seven in June and has been locked in a week long, back-and-forth battle with Jose Abreu for the American League lead in homers and RBIs. Since the beginning of the 2012 season, Encarnacion’s 104 home runs leads the majors. This coming from a player who was designated for assignment by two different teams.

5. (-) Victor Martinez, DH, DET: .328/.391/.599, 21 HR, 55 RBI, 45 R

It pains me to rank a player who has played just 12 games in the field in the top five, but Martinez’s hitting has been too good to ignore. He has been an excellent hitter throughout his career, but this year he stepped up his game, in his age-35 season no less. He sits ahead of teammate and back-to-back MVP Miguel Cabrera in every offensive category except doubles and RBIs, a testament to his stellar production this season.

Off the list –

2. Josh Donaldson

3. Nelson Cruz

4. Miguel Cabrera


NL – Stanton Closing the Gap

1. (1.) Troy Tulowitzki, SS, COL: .350/.441/.608, 18 HR, 47 RBI, 66 R

The gap is closing between Tulowitzki and his adversaries, though that says more about the stellar play of the NL’s top contenders than it does about the Rockies shortstop. When “cooling off” means a month of hitting .354/.430/.525, you know a player is having an incredible season. What’s more, Tulo has stayed healthy, a rare feat for a player who has played 150 games just twice in his nine year career.

2. (2.) Giancarlo Stanton, RF, MIA: .309/.407/.574, 21 HR, 62 RBI, 60 R

Like Tulo, Stanton has had a hard time staying on the field in his career, posting 150 games just once entering his fifth season. Also like Tulo, he has been nothing short of excellent all year long, hitting monstrous home runs, drawing walks, playing good defense and even going 8-for-8 on the basepaths. Such all around production and clear linear improvement have brought Stanton from top prospect, to slugger to one of the best players in the majors and at 24-years-old, he has shown no signs of stopping.

3. (3.) Andrew McCutchen, CF, PIT: .323/.425/.536, 12 HR, 51 RBI, 45 R, 13 SB, 56 BB

Speaking of all-around play, last year’s MVP McCutchen is perhaps the prime example. He hits for average, is extremely patient at the plate, hits for power, plays a premium defensive position well and is an excellent 13-for-13 in stolen bases. He is replicating his MVP season last year, though among much stiffer competition. Still, with Starling Marte heating up and top prospect Gregory Polanco more than holding his own in the majors, McCutchen could see another spike in production and should contend for this award for years to come.

4. (-) Jonathan Lucroy, C, MIL: .333/.401/.521, 9 HR, 44 RBI, 41 R

Lucroy very quietly put up very good seasons the last two years, but has exploded this year, leading a surprising Brewers team to the best record in the National League. On top of his stellar offensive production, in which he sits second in hits, batting average and doubles and fifth in OPS, he has also cemented himself as one of the best defensive catchers in the league, having thrown out a league leading 18 stolen base attempts and amassing a 1.1 defense WAR, as per baseball-reference.

5. (-) Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, ARI: .307/.396/.544, 15 HR, 55 RBI, 62 R, 31 2B

Last year’s runner up is putting together another excellent season, with his current 160 OPS+ the same figure he put up last year. Though, as with McCutchen, he is facing a tougher field of contenders, as his OPS+ lead the league last year but sits fourth this season. Still, Goldschmidt is an excellent player and has been consistent all season long for a Diamondbacks team that has been the worst in the majors.

Off the list –

4. Yasiel Puig

5. Carlos Gomez


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