Quick trivia question: Which three teams have never had a player win a Most Valuable Player Award?
Two of them are 1998 expansion teams: The Arizona Diamondbacks and the Tampa Bay Rays. The third? The New York Mets, somehow. (No offense to the great Willie McGee, but ... how did Dwight Gooden not win in '85, exactly?)
Having a player win an MVP Award is an achievement for any franchise. It means, for at least one season, you had the best your sport had to offer.
Finding that best player, that franchise cornerstone, is the goal of any team. Everybody needs someone to build around.
So in this week's edition of The Thirty, we look at the most likely player on every team to someday win an MVP Award. Some of these players have already won one; some of them might win one this year; some of them just possess the tools to eventually win one. But they all have the top-tier talent all teams lust after. They all could someday put that trophy on the shelf.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays: Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
The window has probably closed on Josh Donaldson's chances of winning a second one, so we'll go with the phenom all of baseball is salivating over. No father-and-son combo has ever both won MVP Awards. This is the best chance, probably ever, of that happening.
The question, of course: Which team will Machado win it for?
Adames hasn't gotten off to the torrid start Tampa Bay might have hoped for when it called him up last month -- other than that homer off Chris Sale in his second at-bat -- but he is still the sort of player who, if the Rays return to prominence, will be widely credited for the resurgence.
Red Sox:Mookie Betts
Betts could win multiple AL MVP Awards ... if he could just somehow get Michael Trout to the National League.
Judge almost won the AL MVP Award last year, and he might have if he hadn't been a rookie. He has been just as good this year, but there's a problem: Judge is only nine months younger than Trout. It might be his misfortune that the year Trout got hurt happened to be his rookie season.
A year ago, Francisco Lindor would have been the obvious pick here, but considering the year Ramirez is having, he's still in the running to win the AL MVP Award this year. And he's only a year older than Lindor.
Hmm. Pretty tough to come up with anyone here. The Royals have no prospects in MLB Pipeline's Top 100 list, and their top five picks in this year's Draft were all pitchers. When pushed, we guess we'll go with the guy who might go nuts one year and hit 45 homers. But he probably won't do that, and even if he does, he probably won't win an MVP Award.
It's not easy to find anyone on Detroit's roster, either, but at least its best candidate is already an above-average hitter.
Again, Rosario, only two years older than former top prospect Byron Buxton, has passed him entirely. Rosario might be one of the best 10 players in baseball right now.
White Sox:Eloy Jimenez
Boy, will Cubs fans hate it if he ends up winning an MVP Award on the South Side.
Angels: Mike Trout
Trout single-handedly might be why the majority of the players on this list may never win an MVP Award.
So many players to choose from here, including the guy who just won the AL MVP Award (Jose Altuve), but in doubt, we'll go with the youngest superstar.
This requires a widespread appreciation of Chapman's defense, but if Oakland's turn the corner and become a powerhouse again, he'll have been there from the beginning and might be the guy the voters credit.
Mariners: Kyle Lewis
Seattle is playing well without a real superstar this year, so we'll dig deep into the bag marked "potential" and go with the prospect with an enticing hit tool.
Not long ago, Texas' young players looked like an endless wave of superstars. Now? We got so old that Jurickson Profar is two years away from free agency.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
The only reason it's not Ronald Acuna Jr. is because Freeman might win the NL MVP Award this year.
Brinson's probably the pick here, even though he's not currently the best rookie on his own team.
Any pitcher ever win an MVP Award with fewer than 10 wins? (Brandon Nimmo might have some thoughts about this, by the way.)
With all the talent on this team, and even with his struggles this year, Harper is still the pick. He sure is picking a rough time to have a down year, though. And Juan Soto was close to being the choice here.
Hoskins has settled down from the eruption last year to simply being one of the most exciting hitters in baseball.
Despite being among the Wins Above Replacement leaders in the NL, Cain remains one of the most underappreciated players in the game.
One of the major issues with St. Louis right now is that there is no obvious contender here, either on the big league roster or in the Minors.
Bryant won the NL MVP Award in 2016, was fine in '17 and will probably be just as good in '18.
Meadows is finally here and raking. He's already the Bucs' best hitter.
The answer to most Cincinnati-related questions is Votto.
If Pollock could just stay healthy. Arizona, and the rest of baseball, is so much better and more fun with a healthy Pollock.
Assuming of course Clayton Kershaw doesn't stay healthy for a full season and win another one.
If San Francisco was a little better, Belt woudl be a stealth candidate this year.
Padres:Fernando Tatis Jr.
One year, Tatis Jr. and Vlad Jr. could win MVP Awards in the same season, and it would be wonderful.
Arenado has finished in the top 10 in NL MVP Award voting three times already in his career, and 2018 has been the best year of his career so far.