Two 2018 AL MVP contenders are reaching heights rarely seen in history. How do Betts and Trout stack up against other great pairs to top the league?
Sean Penney wrote last week about the MVP race between Mookie Betts and Mike Trout. In his piece, he correctly pointed out that the pace these players are on would result in historically great seasons. Today we will dig a little deeper and compare it to the greatest MVP races in MLB history.
First, let’s establish some background. Most years, May 31 is way too early to talk about MVP races. About one-third of the season has played out and all kinds of crazy things might happen in the next four months. But Betts and Trout have not had any type of ordinary seasons. Their numbers are far from garden-variety even compared to those of MVPs from yesteryear.
Through the seasons first two months Trout and Betts stack up as follows.
Those WAR totals could pass as full All-Star seasons, but again it’s May. If Betts played at this clip for the rest of the season his bWAR total would be the highest posted for a position player since Carl Yastrzemski won the triple crown in 1967. If Trout played at this clip for the rest of season his bWAR total would be the highest for a position player ever.
Let that sink in. Both of these players are having seasons that have little comparison in the annals of baseball history. It’s far from a given that these two players can perform like this for the entirety of the 2018 season, but just as a fun exercise let’s see what it would look like if they did. If Betts and Trout maintain their current pace where would 2018’s AL MVP race rank among the greatest in the game’s history? Let’s establish some guidelines to help answer that question.