LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — As Major League Baseball's postseason approaches, the race for the MVP awards has started to heat up. Here are the top three candidates worthy of winning the award in each league.
- Josh Donaldson, third base, Toronto Blue Jays
Donaldson is having an absolutely stellar season in his first year as a Toronto Blue Jay. Leading the team with 28 home runs, Donaldson has carried the Blue Jays thus far on the season as they are in contention for a wild card spot in the American League.
Before play began Wednesday, Donaldson was hitting .293 with 28 home runs, 78 RBIs, 70 runs, 123 hits and an on-base plus slugging percentage of .919.
Donaldson has been a vacuum at third base as well, bringing the stellar defense that won him the Fielding Bible Award last year, which acknowledged him as the best-fielding third baseman in the major leagues.
With the Blue Jays' addition of shortstop Troy Tulowitzki. who has been hitting ahead of Donaldson batting lead-off, Donaldson will gain many more opportunities to drive in runs.
With Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion struggling a bit this season, Donaldson is without a doubt the Blue Jays team MVP, and if they are able to make the playoffs for the first time in 22 years, he very well could be awarded the American League MVP award.
- Nelson Cruz, outfield, Seattle Mariners
Nelson Cruz has been a free agent the past two seasons, and I'm not sure there is a good reason why. In 2013, he was selected to the AL All-Star team as a member of the Texas Rangers, when he hit .266 with 27 home runs and 76 RBIs.
He was not re-signed by the Rangers and would later go on to sign a one-year deal with the Baltimore Orioles.
In 2014, in his first year with the Orioles, he hit a league-leading 40 home runs while compiling 108 RBI's and hitting a modest .271 at the plate.
Despite the power surge he displayed with the Orioles, the team declined to re-sign him, and he signed another one-year deal, this time with the Seattle Mariners.
In yet another contract year, Cruz has hit 31 home runs and racked up 67 RBIs while hitting .323 and boasting a .984 OPS.
Despite the Mariners' disappointing season thus far, Cruz is making a serious case for the American League MVP Award with his dazzling offensive numbers. He has not received much support from teammate Robinson Cano, who is hitting .264 with just 11 home runs and 48 RBIs, as the Mariners sit 10.5 games behind the division-leading Astros.
- Mike Trout, center field, Angels
Mike Trout is having what could be his most impressive season as a professional. In just his fourth full season, Trout is hitting .306 with a majors-leading 32 home runs. He also has 68 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 117 hits, 76 runs and an OPS of 1.015 and a league leading slugging percentage of .618.
Trout has picked up his power numbers tremendously as of late, clubbing 12 home runs just in the month of July, while driving in 24 runs as well. In July, Trout also hit .367 with an OPS for the month that reached 1.323.
The Angels hold one of the wild card spots in the American League. and Mike Trout has to be the favorite to win the MVP as of now.
Besides receiving offensive help from Albert Pujols and Kole Calhoun, Trout has pretty much put the entire team on his back.
- Paul Goldschmidt, first base, Arizona Diamondbacks
Goldschmidt could be the only bright spot in what has been a miserable year for the Arizona Diamonbacks.
Goldschmidt leads the National League with a batting average of .335, 83 walks, 23 intentional walks and 465 plate appearances.
To go along with those stats, he has 22 home runs, 77 RBIs, 67 runs and 126 hits thus far.
He was selected to the All-Star team for the third straight season and has racked up 17 stolen bases this season.
Goldschmidt will struggle to muster the votes necessary to win the award because of his team's struggles, despite him ranking fourth in the MLB in Wins Above Replacement.
His 6.04 WAR trails only Bryce Harper, Mike Trout and Zack Greinke.
- Buster Posey, catcher, San Francisco Giants
The three-time world champion is having yet another stellar season for the San Francisco Giants, as the 28-year old catcher has helped lead the Giants into position for another playoff run this September.
Posey is hitting .328 this season with 16 home runs, 75 RBIs, 56 runs and 119 hits.
He has a WAR of 5.48, which ranks him ninth in the major leagues in that category.
Posey not only plays above-average defense but is the best-hitting catcher in the entire league, and helps anchor the San Francisco Giants pitching staff that features reigning World Series MVP Madison Bumgarner.
The Giants hold the top wild card spot in the National League, but as we have seen in the past, the Giants are more than capable of reaching and winning the World Series despite not winning their own division.
The Dodgers are just two games ahead of the rival Giants and are going to need to continue playing sound baseball in order to stay ahead of Posey and the Giants.
- Bryce Harper, outfield, Washington Nationals
Bryce Harper has finally come into his own after not living up to the lofty expectations in his first three seasons as a professional baseball player.
After he was drafted No. 1 overall in the 2010 draft, Harper faced lofty and absurdly high expectations when he came into the league in 2012.
In his first season in the MLB at 19, Harper was selected to the All-Star team with 22 home runs, 59 RBIs, 18 stolen bases and a batting average of .270.
The following year, he was yet again selected to the All-Star team as he put together a .274 batting average while hitting 20 home runs, 28 RBIs and 11 stolen bases.
2014 was the only year of his career he was not selected to the All-Star team, as the 21-year old struggled a bit, hitting .273 with just 13 home runs, 32 RBIs and two stolen bases. He did, however, only play in 100 games, as he missed some time due to injury.
This season is a completely different story for Harper, as he has officially validated himself worthy of that No. 1 overall selection in 2010.
He is leading the National League in a whopping seven offensive categories and has surpassed a career-high for home runs in a season with 29.
He leads the NL with 70 runs, 29 home runs, a .455 on-base percentage, a .667 slugging percentage, a 1.121 OPS, a 206 OPS+, and 226 total bases.
Harper also has 68 RBIs, four stolen bases, 112 hits, and showcases an impressive .330 batting average, which is good for second place in the NL behind Paul Goldschmidt, and third in the entire MLB.
Harper has got to be the favorite for the NL MVP, although his Nationals do sit a game behind the first-place Mets while holding a wild card position.
PICKS TO WIN THE MVPs, as of Aug. 5.
AL: Mike Trout, Angels
NL: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
for more features.