MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
1. Josh Donaldson—The Blue Jays third baseman has been a standout defender who has put up outstanding offensive totals for Toronto. He should have a 40/40 season, needing only one more home run (39) to go with his 40 doubles in the final 10 games of the season. With league-leading totals in runs (117) and RBI (120) he will become only the fourth third baseman in major league history, since 1900, to lead his league in both runs and RBI. The other third basemen to accomplish this feat—Al Rosen of the Indians in 1953, Mike Schmidt of the Phillies in 1981 and Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees in 2007—all won MVP honors.
2. Mike Trout—During his four full seasons in the major leagues (2012-2015), Trout has been the best all-around player in the game, and his numbers this year still rank him among the elite but he is not the top dog. He reached a career high 40 homers and leads the A.L. in slugging (.587) and OPS (.954). He remains reliably consistent and clutch with a .284 batting average with the bases empty, .313 with men on base and a .349 mark with runners in scoring position.
3. Eric Hosmer—This third spot on my list is a coin flip between Royals teammates Hosmer and Lorenzo Cain who have put up numbers that are mirror images of each others production on the field. Hosmer’s totals entering the final week are 172 hits, 31 doubles, 16 homers, 93 runs, 87 RBI, .304 BA, .367 OBP and .458 slugging. Cain’s are 162 hits, 32 doubles, 16 homers, 98 runs, 71 RBI, .307 BA, .363 OBP and .482 slugging. Cain has more steals (28) than Hosmer (6) and both are two of the best defensive players at their position. Hosmer’s leadership skill is rising and may be the one distinction that separates the two All-Stars.
1. Bryce Harper—Because Washington failed in their quest for a postseason spot should not take away from the year Harper has had—the best overall offensive totals in the majors. He is the league leader in runs (116), homers (41), batting average (.339), on-base percentage (.471), slugging (.665) and OPS (1.136). He has also clubbed 35 doubles, driven home 95 runs and walked 122 times. If he can push his BA back above .340, as it has been for most of the year, he can become only the 26th player in big league history to hit .340 or higher with 40-plus homers in the same season.
2. Paul Goldschmidt—Arizona’s standout defensive first baseman is one of the most feared sluggers in the N.L. with his 35 doubles, 31 homers, 96 runs scored, 104 RBI, 114 walks, .319 batting average, .435 OBP and .998 OPS—not to mention his 21 stolen bases. He possesses all the qualities of a star performer with solid offensive and defensive skills and leadership dexterity in the clubhouse. With nine games left in the 2015 campaign, the Diamondbacks, behind Goldschmidt’s direction on and off the field, lead the N.L. in hits (1,419), runs scored (683) and batting average (.265) while ranking among the top five clubs in doubles, triples, RBI, stolen bases, OBP and slugging.
3. Andrew McCutchen and Anthony Rizzo—take your pick. McCutchen is the heart and soul of a Pittsburgh Pirates team that has performed at a .577 winning percentage, the second highest in the majors behind division rival St. Louis’s .595 mark. Without McCutchen, the Bucs don’t make have three consecutive wild card playoff berths. In 2015, he played outstanding defense in center while maintaining productive numbers at the plate with a .296 BA, .406 on-base percentage, 88 runs, 95 RBI, 35 doubles and 22 home runs. With the addition of Joe Maddon as Cubs manager, Rizzo continues to improve his all-around game and match the leadership skills of any veteran in the majors. With his guidance, the Cubs are ahead of schedule in their youth movement and have captured an invitation to the postseason. On the field, Rizzo is hitting .282 with a .392 OBP and .522 slugging behind 36 doubles and 30 home runs. He has scored 89 runs and driven home 95. He has been hit by a pitch a major league high 29 times and with one more HBP in the final 10 games, he will join Don Baylor (1986 Red Sox 31 HR, 35 HBP) as the only players in baseball history with 30 or more homers and HBP in the same year.