2013 MLB Picks and Predictions – Top 5 American League MVP Candidates: Believe it or not, a quarter of the 2013 MLB season is already in the books, and while that means that more than 100 games still remain, there has also been a big enough sample size to start ranking the top MVP candidates. Granted, a hot start to a season means little if a player doesn’t continue to produce throughout the rest of the summer and into the fall, but on the other hand, it isn’t easy to win the award after struggling in the early months either. With that in mind, here is a look at the five players that have put themselves in early consideration for the 2013 MVP Award in the American League.
1. Miguel Cabrera, Third Baseman, Detroit Tigers
Apparently winning the MVP Award last year didn’t satisfy Cabrera because he has already established himself as the frontrunner for the same honor in 2013. He currently leads the AL with a .376 batting average and 42 RBIs, and he also owns the league’s top on-base percentage and has the most hits. By the way, Cabrera has helped slug the Tigers to the top of the Central Division so he gets check marks in both the individual and team success categories. Plain and simple, he has established himself as the best all-around hitter in baseball, and Cabrera is looking very tough to dethrone as AL MVP at this point.
2. Chris Davis, First Baseman, Baltimore Orioles
The Orioles are again in the thick of things in the American League East, and the hot bat of Davis has had a lot to do with the team’s strong start. He currently ranks tied for first in the AL with 11 home runs, and his 39 RBIs are the second most. His .317 batting average isn’t too shabby either, and Davis leads the AL with a .662 slugging percentage and a 1.072 OPS. He has always had the power to hit home runs, but he has emerged a legitimate run producer in the middle of Baltimore’s lineup thus far. If he continues to drive in runs and the Orioles continue to win, Davis’ MVP push is only going to gain steam.
3. Ian Kinsler, Second Baseman, Texas Rangers
When the Rangers lost slugger Josh Hamilton in free agency, it seemed like the powerful offense that has made them a perennial playoff contender would be in jeopardy of dissolving. Instead, Texas has the best record in the American League and a huge lead in the West. Kinsler’s versatile and steady offensive production of the lineup has made life easier for the rest of the team at the plate. He is hitting .302 with seven homers, 20 RBIs and 24 runs scored to go along with a .869 OPS, and while there have been years when Kinsler has shown more power or stolen more bases, he couldn’t have picked a better time to have his most consistent year at the plate. His ability to be a tablesetter has the Rangers rolling, and if his individual numbers continue to mirror the team’s success, he could grab himself the MVP Award when all is said and done.
4. Robinson Cano, Second Baseman, New York Yankees
With injuries to Derek Jeter, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez and Curtis Granderson, the Yankees’ offense was supposed to struggle, and the team’s stranglehold in the AL East was supposed to be in jeopardy. Well, New York is leading their division and is seventh in the majors in home runs so far, and Cano’s bat is a big reason for both. A recent slump has dropped his average to a still-respectable .292, but his 10 homers are just one off the total of the current league leaders, and he leads the Yankees with 27 RBIs. With all their other offensive stars out, Cano got off to a much-needed strong start for New York. He will have to continue to put up big numbers if he wants to win the MVP, but Cano has put himself on the early list of contenders.
5. Mike Napoli, First Baseman/Catcher, Boston Red Sox
After the disaster that was the 2012 season, the Red Sox were supposed to be in rebuilding mode this season. Thanks to a surprisingly hot start, Boston is just a game out of the top spot in the AL East, and the addition of Napoli in the offseason has been a big reason for the turnaround. His .256 batting average and 57 strikeouts aren’t pretty, but there is no denying his ability to drive in runs. Napoli’s 34 RBIs are the third most in the AL, and his 18 doubles lead the league. His RBI production has been even more valuable considering David Ortiz was sidelined to start the year, and while Napoli’s average probably has to improve for him to earn MVP honors, his timely hitting could do the trick if it continues.
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