Even with his second half scuffles, many have already declared that this is the season that Mike Trout finally wins his long deserved American League Most Valuable Player Award. It’s hard to argue against it, as he continues to produce at an incredible rate in now his third full big league season. However, there are players not to be overlooked in this matter. One of those, perhaps at the top of such a list, is that of Alex Gordon of the upstart Kansas City Royals.
Gordon represents a prime reason as to how the Royals have reached the position in which they find themselves as the month of September nears. They’re the hottest team in baseball and lead a division that many had simply handed to the Detroit Tigers before the season began. Like Trout, he represents a player that can contribute greatly both with the bat and with the glove, doing both exceptionally well.
Offensively, Gordon isn’t quite on the level of Trout, but he’s still produced steadily throughout the season nonetheless. Across 517 plate appearances this season, he’s slashed .283/.356/.454/.810. Those aren’t quite on a Trout level, but still very impressive nonetheless. He’s been a rare source of power for the Royals, with 16 homers on the year. His solid .172 ISO certainly reflects his ability to hit for extra bases.
Gordon’s strikeout/walk ratio isn’t terrific, but it’s about what you’d expect. He’s struck out just a touch over 18 percent, which is lower than both Trout and Donaldson. His walk rate is respectable, at just under nine percent. He’s also gone for a 128 wRC+ and a .357 wOBA. Again, nothing here screams that he deserves the award over Trout, but it’s still extremely steady production nonetheless.
The offensive numbers probably don’t paint the greatest of pictures in an argument in favor of Alex Gordon as the AL MVP. However, when you combine it with what he does in the field, with the glove, then there’s certainly a case to be made.
Gordon’s fielding metrics are off the chart. His UZR per 150 innings is up over 27, which is an absolutely absurd number. Trout’s UZR is in the negative. His Defensive Runs saved on the year sits at 22. His assists are down, but that’s due to a decrease in baserunners actually attempting to move on him. The only real player that can compare to his combination of offensive production and defensive efficiency this season is Josh Donaldson.
What it all comes down to is a 5.9 fWAR, which is second in the American League among position players, just 0.2 behind Mike Trout.
At the end of the day, it’s going to be virtually impossible for anyone to overtake Mike Trout for the MVP award in the American League. The purpose of this also is not to discount what he’s done this year in any way, as it’s about time he finally gets the award he’s deserved for several years. Even so, Alex Gordon has done enough on both sides of the ball to merit some sort of consideration. At the very least, he’s a shoe-in for another Gold Glove, but he’ll absolutely draw some attention as a potential MVP candidate in the AL.