Who says that starting pitchers can’t be judged as the most valuable players on their clubs? Out West, it’s fashionable.
According to an MLB.com consensus, starters emerged as the most essential performers for two American League West clubs -- Seattle and Texas. The division’s other clubs were represented by players with more typical MVP profiles -- the multitalented and the powerful. Read on to discover the selections.
Angels: CF Mike Trout
The 28-year-old remains the front-runner to win his third AL Most Valuable Player Award despite being out since Sept. 7 with a nerve issue in his right foot that required season-ending surgery last Friday. Trout is tied for the AL lead in homers with 45 while also leading the league in on-base percentage (.438) and slugging percentage (.645). Trout has been the Angels' MVP in each of his full seasons dating back to 2012 and has ranked among the top two in balloting for AL MVP in all but one season.
Astros: INF Alex Bregman
Among AL players, Bregman ranks first in walks (112), second in on-base percentage (.421), third in OPS (1.016), third in slugging (.595), fourth in runs (119), tied for third in homers (40) and fifth in RBIs (110). Bregman’s 40 home runs are the most by an Astro since first baseman Lance Berkman hit 45 in 2006. He joins Jeff Bagwell (three times), Berkman (twice) and Richard Hidalgo (once) as the only Astros to hit 40 homers in a season. He’s the only Astros player to hit 40 homers before turning 26. Demonstrating versatility, Bregman has started 90 games at third base and on Wednesday started his 57th at shortstop, mostly while Carlos Correa has been injured.
A’s: SS Marcus Semien
Few Major Leaguers have had the impact on their ballclubs that Semien brings to the A’s. He’s on pace to appear in 162 games. He has established multiple franchise hitting records, including a pair previously belonging to Rickey Henderson: most home runs from the leadoff spot and runs scored for a season. He could be destined for a Gold Glove Award, given his high rankings in modern fielding metrics. A’s manager Bob Melvin has repeated that Semien works harder than anybody on the team, something which younger players notice and try to emulate. Honorable mention goes to first baseman Matt Olson, who might be approaching 50 home runs had he not endured an early season stint on the injured list.
Mariners: LHP Marco Gonzales
When general manager Jerry Dipoto announced he was going to being restructuring the Mariners around a younger core of players this year, he identified Gonzales as one of the key building blocks. And the 27-year-old southpaw has shown why as he has put together a strong season from start to finish. On a last-place club whose best offensive players have either dealt with injuries or lengthy cold spells, the former Gonzaga standout has been a shining light of consistency. At 16-12 with a 4.09 ERA, Gonzales has led the Mariners since his Opening Day win over the A’s in Tokyo, racking up career bests in victories, starts (33) and innings (196). In games started by Gonzales, the Mariners are 17-16, compared to 49-75 with anyone else on the mound.
Rangers: RHP Lance Lynn or LHP Mike Minor
To be fair to both pitchers, selecting either one ahead of the other is an issue that might best be solved until they make their final starts. Lynn owns a 15-11 record (.577); Minor is 13-10 (.565) entering Thursday. Minor has compiled a 3.52 ERA; Lynn’s is 3.76. They’re near-identical in the category of WHIP (Minor, 1.227; Lynn, 1.249). Lynn has a clear edge when strikeout-related figures are added, including strikeouts per nine innings (10.6 to 8.6) and strikeouts-to-walks ratio (4.07 to 2.89).