EVEN THOUGH HIS AVERAGE IS DOWN, HIS POWER NUMBERS HAVE HIM IN THE CONVERSATION

Bregman once again in MVP discussion

Let me start by saying that Mike Trout is the leader for the American League Most Valuable Player Award and his stats are on par with his typical season over the last five years. He is simply the best player in baseball and all you need to do is look at the voting for the award every year since he became an everyday player in the major leagues and you will see consistency, hitting for average, power numbers and a WAR that are all at an elite level. The biggest problem is that he plays for a team in the Angels that are consistently inconsistent and underachieving over Trout's career in the big leagues. If you are the favorite seemingly every year for MVP shouldn't your team be better overall as a unit? It's the same discussion we have had and heard with James Harden and the voting issues that have short-changed him when pitted against Steph Curry and Russell Westbrook. One year wins matter and the next they don't? Regardless of his team's success, it's pretty hard to argue against Trout winning the award again in 2019.

Astros Alex BregmanPhoto by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

With all that said about Trout and the year he is having, have you looked at the season Alex Bregman's having and the numbers he is putting up? Most analytical baseball websites have him in the top three when examining the most qualified and deserving candidates for A.L. MVP and when you delve deeper into the stats it pretty easy to see why. Sure his batting average is lower than it was a year ago, ut his power numbers are through the roof. People are quick to forget he normally steps up his game in August and September when most players start to taper off and slow down. Alex is a "gamer" and we all know when the lights are the brightest and the stage at it's biggest, that's when he really shows up in a big way. Just look at his last game on the most recent 10 game road trip to see that amongst a team tired, road-weary and scuffling, Bregman was 4-4 with a walk and 3 RBI. So far in the month of August, he is hitting .442, with 23 hits in 52 at-bats, which 15 were for extra bases, 20 RBI and 10 walks. Is that any good? I would say so! His WAR or wins above replacement is a 6.2 which is 3rd, right behind Trout and his ridiculous 8.2 that leads all of baseball and Cody Bellinger the top candidate for N.L. MVP who is at a career-best 8.1. Safe to say Bregman deserves to be in the discussion when talking about the players having the best overall seasons in baseball in 2019 especially since WAR factors in defense and he is easily one of the best defensive 3rd basemen in the sport. He is projected to have a similar average, more home runs and about the same number of RBI as last season when he finished in the top 5 vote-getters for the award given to the best player in the American League.

The Astros paradeBob Levey/Getty Images

The best part about the year Alex Bregman is having is the fact that he has been able to post all these great numbers while being surrounded by a cast of equally talented and previously awarded stars in the Astros batting order on a nightly basis. Jose Altuve has been there and done that when it comes to the MVP, Michael Brantley is in a tight race for the batting title, Carlos Correa has been the A.L. Rookie of the Year, George Springer has been a World Series MVP, Yuli Gurriel was player of the month for July and Yordan Alvarez is on pace to be the latest Houston player to bring home the hardware as the best first-year player in the American League. The team is full of all-stars, but the best part of all these individual success stories is the fact that together they make up one heck of a team. Houston is in a 3 team race for the best record in baseball and along with the Yankees and Dodgers, they are the favorites to win their second World Series title in the last 3 years. Unlike Trout who can only hang his hat on his personal numbers, Bregman and company can take pride in the successful squad they put on the diamond every night as they head towards another division title and postseason birth. It's great to have a great player or players on your team and having outstanding seasons, but it really means nothing if they don't win consistently and accomplish the team goals all great teams set out to achieve at the start of every year. So, you can have your Trout and go fishing every year when the playoffs start, or you can have Houston's collection of stars and have your individual cake and the team can eat it too!

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Yordan Alvarez is special. Composite photo by Brandon Strange.

The Astros have had several call-ups in recent memory that caused a ton of hype but didn't ultimately pan out. Remember when Jon Singleton was supposed to change the franchise's direction back in 2014? On June 9th, 2019, Yordan Alvarez had similar expectations for his debut. However, unlike others who started with a bang and ultimately fizzled out, Alvarez has kept getting better the longer he's been in the league.

Everyone enjoys seeing history made, even if it comes in some outlandish combination of statistics like being the first player with certain initials to hit a home run on a specific date on the calendar. Many recognize that Alvarez is the best hitter in the league this year, but what if I told you he might go down as one of the best of all time and potentially be in the mix to break some of baseball's most sacred historical milestones?

An all-time OPS

If you aren't familiar with it, baseball-reference.com is a terrific website for researching the stats of any player, past or present, and has a great set of all-time leaderboards, such as OPS. The threshold to get on that list is 3000 plate appearances, which is why you'll see some active players, like Mike Trout, who sits at eleventh with a 1.0001 OPS in his 5,986 career plate appearances thus far.

You probably recognize many of the names ahead of Trout, like Barry Bonds in fifth and the all-time leader, Babe Ruth, with an incredible 1.1636 OPS in his 10,626 career plate appearances. Since his 2019 debut, Alvarez has had 1,321 plate appearances, including his first complete season in 2021, where he had just shy of 600, which he's on pace to do again in 2022.

In those plate appearances, his OPS sits at .983, but he's been steadily improving that this season in his best year yet, where he leads all MLB with a 1.088, which is comprised of an AL-best .414 on-base percentage and MLB-best .674 slugging percentage. If you put him on the all-time list as he sits now, he'd beat out Mark McGwire for the 13th spot. Put him on the list with this season's 1.088, and that's good for third to move down Lou Gehrig.

There's still a long way to go in terms of potential outcomes before he gets the 1,679 additional plate appearances needed to get on the list, but where will he land when and if he gets there? If he stays healthy and gets around an average of 600 PAs per year, we could find out in just a couple of years.

The pinnacle of all stats - WAR

Wins above replacement is a statistic that, in essence, summarizes how valuable a player is. It attempts to tell the story of the number of additional games you'd win with that player on the field versus a replacement. Albert Pujols leads active players, owning the 32nd spot at 99.5 over his 22 seasons in the majors, while Ruth leads this stat all-time with 183.1.

This stat accumulates throughout a career, ideally going up over time as a player provides consistent success for his club. For position players, this is a combination of hitting and fielding value. Alvarez increased his WAR by 3.8 points in 2021 and has already moved it up by 4.7 more in 2022, up to 12.2, which shows just how well he's been doing at the plate.

Yordan Alvarez's Career War (Fangraphs)Yordan Alvarez's Career War (Fangraphs)Yordan Alvarez's Career War (Fangraphs)

Again, despite perhaps not having the fielding prowess to boost things even further, if you take that trajectory out over a lengthy and healthy career, you're talking about someone who could become one of the all-time greats. Take that crystal ball out again and do some forecasting; if he can add to his WAR at these rates over 10-15 more years, he would be in the top 50.

Make room in the trophy case

Alvarez already has the 2019 Rookie of the Year under his belt, was named the 2021 ALCS MVP, and received his first All-Star nomination this season. But that could be just the tip of the iceberg for this young slugger. Right now, Aaron Judge is the clear leader in the American League MVP race, and thanks to his two-way bonus, Shohei Ohtani would probably be most people's second. Yordan Alvarez is firmly in the discussion, though, and all it would take is Ohtani and Judge to finish the year on cold streaks while Alvarez keeps his current pace for him to jump on top.

Regardless, and once again, assuming he can have a long, healthy career, this will unlikely be the last time we talk about Alvarez vying for awards in the MLB. We talk, as we should, a lot about Mike Trout being a generational talent, which is the result of consistent high-level success over a lengthy career. We also try to find the next young talent to wear that crown, like the current hype surrounding players like Juan Soto, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Vladmir Guerrero Jr.

What if Yordan Alvarez is the one to surpass them all? Sure, it's a big if, but if the first few years of his career are any indication, it's more than possible, and we could eventually have another number retired and hanging from the rafters at Minute Maid Park.

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