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Here is each team's top MVP candidate

@williamfleitch
August 9, 2020

For some teams, we are 25 percent of the way through this season. Amazing, right? That means anyone who is on a hot streak now, and can maintain it, has a legitimate chance to win a Most Valuable Player Award, an honor that lasts forever … no matter how unusual

For some teams, we are 25 percent of the way through this season. Amazing, right? That means anyone who is on a hot streak now, and can maintain it, has a legitimate chance to win a Most Valuable Player Award, an honor that lasts forever … no matter how unusual the season.

With that in mind, we take a look at the best MVP candidate for each team. Every team does have one -- some more credible than others, I’ll grant -- and with the time we have left, there’s plenty of time for someone else to emerge. But at this point, here’s each team’s top contender for MVP:

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST

Blue Jays: Teoscar Hernández, OF
Key stat: .941 OPS
Hernández is a downright old man at 27 years old, compared to all the young bucks on his team, but he’s been the offensive standout so far. Wait until he gets to play in Buffalo.

Orioles: Hanser Alberto, INF
Key stat: .349 BA
Basically, the entire Orioles team gets my MVP vote at this point, but Alberto’s .349 average makes the eyes pop. Shoutout to Renato Núñez, monster home run hitter, as well.

Rays: Brandon Lowe, 2B
Key stat: .588 SLG
Lowe has been terrific and underappreciated since he arrived in St. Petersburg two years ago, but he still keeps finding ways to get better.

Red Sox: Xander Bogaerts, SS
Key stat: .418 OBP
The Red Sox have long thought Bogaerts had an MVP season in that bat of his. The team is clearly having pitching issues, but Bogaerts is living up to all everyone dreamed of for him.

Yankees: Aaron Judge, RF
Key stat: 8 HR (tied for MLB lead)
So far, it looks like Judge is going to grab that MVP Award that many feel was denied to him a couple of years ago. It appeared as if teammate Giancarlo Stanton was going to give him a run for his money, but that battle took a hit Sunday when Stanton was placed on the 10-day injured list due to tightness in his left hamstring.

AL CENTRAL

Indians: Shane Bieber, RHP
Key stat: 43% strikeout rate
Remember when Bieber was the fifth starter on this team? He looks like vintage Corey Kluber right now … maybe even better.

Royals: Jorge Soler, RF/DH
Key stat: 3 HR in last 4 games
Last year sure isn’t looking like a fluke: Soler is doing essentially the exact same thing this year. Can you believe he was traded for Wade Davis?

Tigers: JaCoby Jones, CF
Key stat: Eight of 13 hits are extra-base hits
A week ago, we thought it was hilarious that Jones, a career .235 hitter, was leading the Majors in OPS. To be fair, one week later, he is now only third.

Twins: Nelson Cruz, DH
Key stat: 1.007 OPS
Cruz has never finished above seventh in MVP voting for any season in his entire MLB career, a fact that’s more remarkable the more you think about it. But the way he’s going, top five is his floor.

White Sox: Luis Robert, CF
Key stat: .302 BA
The White Sox bats actually quieted down quite a bit over the last week, but Robert is still the standout on a team that’s clearly streaky and just as clearly capable of exploding again any minute now.

AL WEST

Angels: Mike Trout, CF
Key stat: .612 SLG
In a world turned upside down, in a time of unprecedented uncertainty … it is calming, even soothing, to have one thing on this planet you can still count on.

Astros: Carlos Correa, SS
Key stat: .429 OBP
The one Astros player who seemed actively defiant this offseason is the only one who doesn’t seem to be actively struggling in the early going.

Athletics: Frankie Montas, RHP
Key stat: 1.57 ERA
The A’s have more MVP candidates than they know what to do with right now, but Montas has been a downright revelation.

Mariners: Kyle Lewis, OF
Key stat: .355 BA
He might have to win the Rookie of the Year Award first, but Lewis has instantly made the Mariners more watchable than they’ve been in years.

Rangers: Lance Lynn, RHP
Key stat: 1.16 ERA
Not sure anyone has noticed this yet, but Lynn has … basically been Bob Gibson so far? Lance Lynn!

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST

Braves: Ronald Acuña Jr., OF
Key stat: .913 OPS
He had a slow start to the year, but with three homers across Sunday’s doubleheader, he appears to be heating up and remains Atlanta’s best MVP hopeful.

Marlins: Jesús Aguilar, 1B
Key stat: .694 SLG
The Marlins are one of the biggest surprises in baseball right now, and Aguilar -- with four homers in 10 games -- is precisely the big bat they hoped they’d be getting.

Mets: Jacob deGrom, RHP
Key stat: .198 opponent BA
If deGrom can win a Cy Young Award going 10-9, then if he stays undefeated, and as terrific as he’s been so far, hey, why not MVP?

Phillies: J.T. Realmuto, C
Key stat: .677 SLG
It can be easy to forget in the midst of everything, but there is going to be a free-agency period when this season is over. Realmuto is making a terrific case for himself right now, and he might be having a legitimate power spike at the precise right time.

Nationals: Starlin Castro, 2B
Key stat: .357 BA
It is maybe not the best sign that the defending champions are in last place, with Starlin Castro standing out as by far their best hitter to this point.

NL CENTRAL

Brewers: Brandon Woodruff, RHP
Key stat: 11.0 K/9
This is going to be Christian Yelich eventually, obviously, but for now, Woodruff looks like the No. 1 starter the Brewers have been insisting he would become.

Cardinals: Jack Flaherty, RHP
Key stat: 2 ER, 6 K in 7 innings in first start of 2020
It is obviously difficult to come up with a Cardinals MVP candidate right now. But Flaherty was terrific in his first, and only, start and surely will remain so, whenever he pitches again.

Cubs: Yu Darvish, RHP
Key stat: 16 K, 2 BB (8.0 K/BB ratio)
Darvish was pitching like a Cy Young winner down the stretch last year, and he has picked up exactly where he left off.

Pirates: Colin Moran, 1B/3B
Key stat: 5 HR
The Pirates have not been very good to start the season, but you certainly can’t blame Moran for it; he’s tied for third in the NL in homers.

Reds: Nick Castellanos, RF
Key stat: 7 HR
Of all the big bats in this lineup, Castellanos has been the obvious standout: With this and his run with the Cubs at the end of last season, it sure looks like he wishes he had played his entire career in the NL Central.

NL WEST

D-backs: Starling Marte, CF
Key stat: .347 BA
Marte was one of the quietly smarter offseason acquisitions, and he has been one of the few positives the D-backs have had to point to so far.

Dodgers: Corey Seager, SS
Key stat: .989 OPS
There are so many candidates to choose from here, but I’m going to go with the one slam-dunk future star who hasn’t won an MVP yet.

Giants: Mike Yastrzemski, OF
Key stat: 1.113 OPS
His grandfather won his first and only MVP Award at the age of 27. Might grandson come in, at 29, just a couple of years behind him?

Padres: Fernando Tatis Jr., SS
Key stat: 8 HR (tied for MLB lead)
Every emerging superstar has a stretch where he asserts himself, where he makes it clear, 100 percent, once and for all, that he has arrived and will be around, at the forefront of our brains, for the foreseeable future. You can make a strong argument that Tatis Jr. just had that stretch.

Rockies: Charlie Blackmon, RF
Key stat: .458 BA
The other most surprising team in baseball has offset a rough start from Nolan Arenado by the triumvirate of Trevor Story, Daniel Murphy and Blackmon, who, uh … is hitting .458 right now! (If he hits .458 all year, suffice to say, he will have my vote.)