We’ve reached the quarter mark of the MLB season, and we’ve learned that … well, we’ve learned there’s still a lot of baseball left to go. But no matter your team’s record, there have been bright spots this year. Even the roughest start has some gold hidden in there.
So, today at The Thirty, we look at each team’s quarter-mark MVP. It remains to be seen if they can keep this up all year. But no matter what: They’ll always have this start.
AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST
Blue Jays — Eric Sogard, 2B: It’s sort of tough to find a choice on the Blue Jays right now? It better be Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by the All-Star break. But right now, it’s Sogard, who’s batting over .300, has an on-base percentage over .400 and is slugging over .500.
Orioles — Trey Mancini, OF: Mancini has been the rare bright spot for the Orioles for a few years now, and he’s on track to have the best season of his career. He’s 27 years old already, so he may be of more use to the Orioles as trade bait than as a centerpiece of the next great Orioles team.
Rays — Tyler Glasnow, SP: It’s tempting to go with Brandon Lowe, who’s off to a terrific start, but Glasnow has been otherworldly so far. He was the AL Pitcher of the Month for April and has an American League-leading 1.86 ERA. It’s a shame he might not be back on the mound until late June because of a right forearm strain.
Red Sox — Mookie Betts, OF: He has a taken a slight step back from his 2018 season, but he’s still the best player on a team that may be coming around. Betts’ OPS is over 1.000 in 21 games since April 19.
Yankees — Gio Urshela, 3B: The “Most Happy Fella” has been an all-around spark for a Yankees team fighting for first place despite a rash of injuries. His .341 batting average is the best of any AL player with 100 plate appearances. The resurgent Gary Sanchez has a good case, too, with 11 home runs in just 25 games.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL
Indians — Brad Hand, RP: It might seems strange to pick a closer as an MVP in this day and age, but Hand has been a steadying (and dominant) force for a team that’s still hanging in despite injuries and offensive woes, ranking second in the AL with 11 saves.
Royals — Hunter Dozier, 3B: He can’t possibly keep this going all year, but what a run it has been so far. Dozier’s .621 slugging percentage is second-best in the AL behind only George Springer.
Tigers — Matthew Boyd, SP: The Tigers have discovered something handy in the crafty left-hander, who’s thrown seven straight quality starts … and Spencer Turnbull may be just as impressive in his own right.
Twins — Jorge Polanco, SS: The Twins obviously saw something in Polanco. They signed him to a contract extension before the season began. But did they see this MVP candidate coming? Could anyone have?
White Sox — Jose Abreu, 1B: The White Sox have been tempted to trade Abreu for several years now. He’s having another great season, potentially at exactly the right time, with a team-high nine home runs. And a hat tip to the exciting Tim Anderson, who’s hitting .331 with eight homers and making the game fun to watch.
AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST
Angels — Mike Trout, OF: Obviously.
Astros — George Springer, OF: The Astros have a seemingly endless number of candidates … but look who’s off to the best start of his career. Springer leads the AL with 15 homers and a .660 slugging percentage.
Athletics — Matt Chapman, 3B: Perpetually one of the most underappreciated players in all of baseball. Chapman has improved his OPS every season and sits at .931 this year, to say nothing of his Gold Glove defense.
Mariners — Edwin Encarnacion, DH: One of this decade’s greatest home run hitters is reminding everyone of what he can do when healthy and in the lineup every day. His 12 home runs are tied for third-most in the AL.
Rangers — Joey Gallo, OF: This is what we were all hoping was going to happen with Gallo at some point. But a near-.400 on-base percentage to go along with all the monster home runs? This might actually be better.
NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST
Braves — Freddie Freeman, 1B: The Braves have scores of young players, but, as ever, it’s Freeman — who’s batting over .300 and slugging over .500 for a fourth straight year — leading this team both on and off the field.
Marlins — Caleb Smith, SP: In a year without many highlights so far, the emergence of Smith in the rotation (2.11 ERA and an NL-best 34.8 percent strikeout rate) gives Marlins fans something to get excited about.
Mets — Pete Alonso, 1B: Alonso is a Mets sensation already, having mashed 12 home runs. Imagine what happens if you get this larger-than-life character in a pennant chase.
Nationals — Patrick Corbin, SP: You certainly can’t blame the new guy for the mess the Nationals season has been so far. Corbin’s 3.20 ERA is the best in the Nats’ rotation, ahead of both Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.
Phillies — Rhys Hoskins, 1B: Even with all the money they’ve paid Bryce Harper, the real superstar was already comfortably in town. Hoskins has 11 home runs to Harper’s seven, and is outslugging Harper .600 to .450.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL
Brewers — Christian Yelich, RF: An MLB-best 16 home runs in 37 games? It appears that last year was not, in fact, a fluke.
Cardinals — Paul DeJong, SS: DeJong has steadily improved his hitting year by year since reaching the Majors, but the real revelation has been his defense at shortstop. This is quietly one of the best players in baseball.
Cubs — Javier Baez, INF: He may do it in his own, unconventional, not-always-efficient way, but Javy has come into his own and may be the most exciting player in the sport.
Pirates — Josh Bell, 1B: Now this is the Josh Bell the Pirates thought they had all along. His majestic homers — he’s got two over 470 feet already — are as fun as anyone’s.
Reds — Luis Castillo, SP: For once, it’s a pitcher leading the Reds rather than a hitter (namely Joey Votto). Castillo, with his 1.70 ERA and 70 strikeouts, leads a resurgent staff that just needs that offense to get going.
NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST
D-backs — Zack Greinke, SP: Is Greinke’s fantastic start the launching pad for one last finishing kick for Hall of Fame candidacy? He’s about to reach the 2,500-strikeout mark, and if he keeps pitching like this, he’s got a better case than you might think.
Dodgers — Cody Bellinger, OF: It took a rather Herculean effort to outpace what Yelich did in the first month of the season. Bellinger, who’s batting .407 with 15 homers, looks like he’s just getting warmed up.
Giants — Madison Bumgarner, SP: MadBum has better peripheral numbers than his surface numbers, which is the sort of thing that potential trade suitors have surely noticed.
Padres — Chris Paddack, SP: Fernando Tatis Jr. has had more hype (and was fantastic before getting injured), and Manny Machado has all that money … but Paddack, who has a 1.55 ERA and a lethal fastball-changeup combo, is the lead reason why the Padres are rather unmissable right now.
Rockies — Nolan Arenado, 3B: Trevor Story and German Marquez have been excellent too, but this has to be Arenado (team-high 10 home runs) essentially in perpetuity.