HOUSTON -- Mike Trout’s third career American League Most Valuable Player Award was won by a razor-thin margin over Astros infielder Alex Bregman, who put together a terrific season -- including a torrid second half -- to nearly give the Astros a sweep of the three postseason player awards handed out by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Trout and Bregman appeared first and second on all 30 ballots, with the Angels’ star garnering 17 first-place votes and Bregman 13 in balloting announced Thursday. Trout finished with 355 points, just ahead of Bregman’s 335. A’s shortstop Marcus Semien was third with 228 votes. Earlier in the week, Astros designated hitter Yordan Alvarez was named AL Rookie of the Year and Astros pitcher Justin Verlander edged teammate Gerrit Cole for the AL Cy Young Award.
“It was an honor to be in the running along with such great players,” Bregman said in a text message to MLB.com. “Congratulations to Mike Trout on an unbelievable year!”
Astros outfielder George Springer finished seventh in the MVP voting, Cole was 10th and Verlander 11th.
Bregman, who finished fifth in the AL MVP race last year, was the driving force behind the best lineup in baseball, hitting .296 with 41 homers, 112 RBIs, 122 runs, 119 walks and 83 strikeouts. Among AL players, he ranked first in bWAR (8.4) and walks, ranked second in OBP (.423), third in slugging (.592) and OPS (1.105), tied for third in homers, fourth in runs and fifth in RBIs.
While injuries sidelined key players like Springer, José Altuve and Carlos Correa for an extended amount of time, Bregman played in 156 games, mostly at third base, but he made a career-high 65 starts at shortstop in place of Correa. What’s more, Bregman was one of three players in the Majors this season with at least 100 runs, 100 walks and 100 RBIs, joining Trout and Juan Soto of the Nationals.
Bregman closed the gap on Trout in the final month of the season. Trout didn’t play after Sept. 9 because of a right foot injury and wound up playing in 134 games -- 22 fewer than Bregman.
“When I got hurt, it was definitely in the back of my mind,” Trout said. “You have only so much time on your hands when you’re down for the season. You can only sit back and watch, and what [Bregman] did in the second half of the season was pretty incredible. I was rooting for him. I talked to him a lot. Like I said, pretty incredible what he did, and obviously Semien from the A’s.”
After the All-Star break, Bregman ranked second in the Majors in OPS (1.134) and first in OBP (.463), hitting .338 in that span. He set a club record with a 1.122 OPS in the second half. He had a 1.133 OPS in wins and a .763 in losses, which speaks to his value to the club.
“Obviously, Bregman had an unbelievable second half and I had to sit back,” Trout said. “I couldn’t go out there and perform, and it was killing me. I’m very appreciative for the award and very humbled. It was fun race down the end.”