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My 2020 MLB Award Picks: AL MVP

My 2020 MLB Award Picks: A.L. Most Valuable Player

By Chris O’Connor

2020 was a weird season. Only 60 games, filled with 7 inning doubleheaders, extra innings that started with a runner on 2nd base, and many other alterations to a normal year. It was unprecedented and when it comes to award voting, I think that makes it a little more chaotic and fun. Voters in normal years do not just pick the guy with the best WAR for each award, but even if they did, the shortened season caused a logjam at the top without much separation. Because a small difference in WAR is essentially negligible, we have to look at other stats to see who should come out ahead.

Let’s start in the American League…

*For the purposes of this series, I am going to exclude Manager of the Year. I do not think anyone has quantified how much of a difference a manager actually makes, and obviously I am not around the dugout so I do not know what kind of communication goes on between the manager and players.

The following would be my votes for the A.L. MVP Award:

AL MVP:

Jose Abreu

Shane Bieber

Mike Trout

I picked Jose Abreu for a few reasons. The MVP is a narrative-driven award and without an overwhelming narrative helping any one candidate, I think it helps that Abreu led the White Sox to their first postseason appearance since 2008. He slashed .317/.370/.617 and finished second in the AL with a 167 WRC+ behind DJ LeMahieu. I considered LeMahieu as well for the top spot, but he missed 10 games. This would not be much of a difference in a normal year but in 2020, 10 games was almost 17% of the season. Abreu also led the league in RBI’s with 60 and though they don’t mean as much as they used to, an RBI per game is an impressive feat.

I am not in favor of giving MVP awards to starting pitchers unless they have an otherworldly season because they only pitch every five days and they have their own award (Cy Young). Bieber, however, was an exception to the rule. He led the league with 8 wins and struck out 14.2 batters per nine innings. He was top 5 in the league in innings pitched and nothing in his advanced stats suggested it was fluky.

Finally, Mike Trout was right up there with Abreu with a 164 WRC+ while playing 53 games and playing a premium defensive position in center field. Having Trout on an MVP ballot adds some normalcy to this season.

Jose Ramirez and Anthony Rendon were honorable mentions.

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