Comparing Cruz to other MVP candidates
Throwing Cruz’s hat into the ring is one thing, but stacking him up against other contenders for the AL MVP award is another. While Cruz’s impact on the Twins has been huge, some of the other performances around the league could make it difficult to actually take home the award.
As of now, Cruz does not rank in the top 10 in wins above replacement (WAR) for the American League, but the leader at the top of the board is Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout. With a WAR of 8.3, Trout is having a ridiculous year (.296, 42 HR, 98 RBI, 10 SB), but his team is far behind the Houston Astros for the AL West lead.
Alex Bregman is another MVP candidate to come from the AL West and his 6.1 WAR currently ranks second in the American League. His stats of .277 with 30 HR and 83 RBI are great and he plays tremendous defense at third base. The problem is that he’s surrounded by great players on a juggernaut Astros team, making it questionable just how valuable he is.
Matt Chapman could be the player that has the most worth for a contending team as well, ranking third in WAR at 5.6 and crushing 29 home runs despite playing in a cavernous ballpark in Oakland. He is also the favorite to win the gold glove at third base in the American League.
All three are worthy competition for Cruz, who may have to impress even more considering his designated hitter status. With no defensive stats to stand on, voters may have a harder time handing him the MVP, making his campaign a little more difficult.
Still, Cruz figures to be in the discussion for the award even if he doesn’t bring it home. With a strong offensive season, it’s possible that Cruz has his highest finish yet in MVP voting after finishing sixth in 2015 and if he doesn’t slow down, the chants of MVP could start growing at Target Field.