It's never too soon to decide who will be the World Series MVP
With the World Series presented by YouTube TV set to begin Tuesday (Game 1: 7:30 p.m. ET air time/8 p.m. ET game time on FOX), every Astros and Dodgers player is gearing up for some of the biggest games of their lives. But who, out of those 50 players, will emerge as the MVP of the 2017 World Series? Giving more weight to the honor, MLB announced last month that the award has been renamed the Willie Mays World Series Most Valuable Player in honor of the Hall of Famer.
Let's take a look at some of the more likely candidates before the Series begins.
Position players have won eight of the last 10 World Series MVP Awards, but if any pitcher is going to join Cole Hamels and Madison Bumgarner, the best in baseball over the last 10 years seems like a good bet.
In two NLCS starts against the Cubs this year, Kershaw carried a 2.45 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP. Let's also not forget the 2016 NLDS when he came out of the bullpen against the Nationals in the ninth inning of Game 5 to lock down a 4-3 Dodgers win. That versatility could really help him take home the World Series MVP.
Puig got the Dodgers offense started in Game 1 of the NLCS with a bat flip-worthy double. He followed that two innings later with a solo home run, the first of his MLB postseason career.
Of course, Puig doesn't hide when he's having fun (even when all he's doing is taking a ball in the dirt).
Turner was named the MVP of the NLCS along with Chris Taylor thanks, in part, to a walk-off home run in Game 2 to put the Dodgers two games up on the Cubs.
Even for a walk-off homer, Turner's timing couldn't have been better: It came precisely 29 years after Kirk Gibson hit his dramatic walk-off in the 1988 World Series.
A reliever has not been named World Series MVP since Mariano Rivera in 1999. But Jansen is as good a candidate as any, as he has not allowed an earned run in eight innings this postseason. He was nearly perfect in 4 1/3 innings against the Cubs in the NLCS, striking out eight batters while only allowing one baserunner. Jansen's biggest moment came in Game 1 of the NLCS when he recorded a four-out save by striking out all four of the batters he faced.
If there are close games in the World Series, Jansen could find himself on the mound during some of the biggest moments. That's a good place to be if you're looking for an MVP.
Verlander was named MVP of the ALCS after he did everything in his power to help the Astros win his starts in Games 2 and 6. In Game 2, he pitched a 124-pitch complete game and struck out 13 Yankees.
He didn't quite outdo himself in Game 6, but he came pretty close when he went 7 scoreless innings with 8 strikeouts. On one of those strikeouts, he made a veteran hitter -- in said hitter's own words -- look silly.
If he can carry his heroics into the World Series, Verlander could become the first right-handed pitcher to win a World Series MVP since Josh Beckett in 2003.
Altuve is one of the leading contenders for the American League MVP Award -- along with the recently-vanquished Aaron Judge -- so it's no surprise that he's one of the more likely candidates to take home the World Series MVP.
Altuve was perhaps not as dominant in the ALCS as he was against the Red Sox in the ALDS, but he still hit .320/.414/.560 with two home runs over seven games against the Yankees. He was central to one of the most exciting plays of the postseason when he raced all the way from first base to score on Carlos Correa's walk-off double in Game 2.
His solo home run in the fifth inning of Game 7 not only gave the Astros a 2-0 lead, but started a three-run inning that carried them to a 4-0 win.
The Astros won both Games 1 and 2 of the ALCS by a score of 2-1. Correa accounted for all four of the team's runs in the first two games. In Game 1, he drove in Altuve with a single before coming around to score later in the inning.
We already mentioned his double that ended Game 2 in the Astros' favor, but that came after he got the Astros on the board in the fourth inning with a home run that just barely cleared the wall into the secure grasp of a child's glove.
Charlie Morton and Lance McCullers Jr.
Just as candidates run together on a ticket in the presidential election, Morton and McCullers should team up of their MVP candidacy. In Game 7 of the ALCS, the two combined for 11 strikeouts over nine shutout innings. The highlight of the tandem performance came from McCullers, who, over one stretch, threw 24 consecutive curveballs to Yankees hitters.
Back in 2001, Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling shared World Series MVP honors after they combined to start four out of seven games in that series. There's hope for the Morton/McCullers ticket.
Let us know who you think will win the World Series MVP by voting in this poll -- or, if your choice isn't here, let us know in the comments.