1. Mookie Betts, Outfielder for the Boston Red Sox
48 GP, .359/.437/.750, 17 HR, 37 RBI, .489 wOBA, 4.1 WAR
The young stud for the Red Sox may not be the best player in baseball but he’s having the superior season in almost every respect…for now. He has a way higher average that Trout, the slugging is higher, the on base is just a little behind, he has more RBI and a higher wOBA than Trout. The on base being lower isn’t a total surprise. Opposing pitchers can’t be as picky with pick selection with Betts. He’s a threat to steal a base(13 on the season) and the Boston lineup behind him includes Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez, among others. Martinez might not be in the running for MVP but he does have 18 home runs. You don’t want to put Betts on for free when Martinez is up.
The one small knock against Betts is that Trout does play center field, which is the more glamorous and demanding position. That shouldn’t be enough to swing the votes for Trout as things stand. The gap is just a bit too wide between Betts and Trout for now. The other factor is Betts has played six fewer games than Trout as of this writing. That’s not a big chunk of the season but it does make a significant difference in the counting stats. It also doesn’t hurt that Betts plays for the Boston Red Sox, one of the blue blood franchises in the majors. Betts is probably due a little cold streak at some point during the year. If/when that happens, the battle for the American League MVP is going to be quite the slugfest throughout the summer.