By: Alan Payton
Arguably the two biggest stars in baseball today, especially to the younger generation, are Los Angeles Angels 23-year-old outfielder Mike Trout and Washington Nationals 22-year-old outfielder Bryce Harper. They are also perhaps the two best all-around players in the game and likely to be linked throughout what look like expected Hall of Fame careers. So perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Trout is the American League MVP favorite at Paddy Power and Harper the NL favorite. Major League Baseball’s second half of the season begins Friday.
Repeat MVP For Trout?
Trout finished second to Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera for AL MVP in Trout’s first two seasons in the majors. Last year he won it unanimously. He joined former New York Yankees legend Mickey Mantle as the only players who finished as MVP runner-up in consecutive seasons before winning in the following season. Trout was the fifth-youngest winner of the award and the youngest to win in a unanimous vote. He led the AL with 111 RBIs and batted .287 with a career-high 36 home runs, and also led the league in both runs scored (115) and total bases (338).
This season, Trout is on track for perhaps better numbers. He is batting .312 with 26 home runs (first in American League) and 55 RBIs to go with a an AL-best 68 runs and league-best slugging percentage of .614. His Angels are top the AL West. Trout is the heavy 1.44 betting favorite to repeat as the MVP.
There’s quite a drop-off after Trout, with Cleveland Indians All-Star second baseman Jason Kipnis next at 9.00. The 28-year-old, probably not very well known outside of Cleveland, is third in the American League with a .323 average and fifth in runs scored with 59. He played through an oblique injury last season and it showed, limiting him to a .240 batting average.
Texas first baseman Prince Fielder is next at 10.0. He’s a top candidate for AL Comeback Player of the Year after struggling in 2014 and seeing his season cut way short due to injury. Fielder is hitting .339 (No. 2 in AL) with 14 home runs and 54 RBIs.
Harper Finally Staying On Field
As for Washington’s Harper, he’s easily having his best season and so far has avoided injury — that has been a problem before. He played only 100 games in 2014 and 118 the year before. His career high is 139 games. In 81 games thus far in 2015, Harper is second in the National League with a .339 average, second in home runs with 26 and fourth in RBIs with 61. Could we see a Triple Crown? Harper was just the 10th player to make an All-Star team three times before he reached the age of 23. Harper is the 1.83 favorite for NL MVP.
Second on the odds list is Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt at 3.50. He leads the National League with a .340 average and 70 RBIs and is fifth with 21 home runs. His on-base percentage is a crazy-good .455. That’s almost Barry Bonds-like. The National League favorites are rounded out by Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer at 10.0. Scherzer, who has thrown a no-hitter this season, is second in the NL with 10 wins and 150 strikeouts.