The 2017 MLB All-Star Game festivities are in the book. Aaron Judge made the Home Run Derby look as easy as humanly possible. The AL won a low-scoring affair, with Robinson Cano winning the game’s MVP honors thanks to a go-ahead homer in the 10th inning. Now that the Mid-Summer Classic is behind us, it is time to turn our attention to the second half. The second half will not only see the return of regular season baseball, but Judge’s main competition for the AL MVP Award, Mike Trout.
The Los Angeles Angels have played 92 games so far this season. Two-time AL MVP Mike Trout has only played in 47 of those games thanks to a thumb injury. While he was out, Judge continued to dominate the league with his power display. As a result, the rookie has clearly positioned himself to be the favorite for the award.
So that begs the question, can Trout fight his way back into the argument for the American League’s top honor? Before we go any further, let’s take a look at their current stats.
Mike Trout: 47 games, .337 average, 16 homers, 36 RBIs, 36 runs, 10 stolen bases, .461 on-base percentage
Aaron Judge: 84 games, .329 average, 30 homers, 66 RBIs, 75 runs, 6 stolen bases, .448 on-base percentage
Just by looking over the numbers, it is clear to see why both men are considered prime candidates for the MVP honors. But it is also clear, Judge is the favorite. Trout’s injury was certainly unfortunate, but it will certainly make this race intriguing in the coming months.
Trout is set to return to action this Friday when the Angels resume play Friday at home against the Tampa Bay Rays. In his four-game rehab stint, he went 2-9 with four walks and two strikeouts. In the back half of the season, the Angels will have 70 games left to play.
So Trout’s first obstacle comes in the form of games left. The New York Yankees have 76 games remaining, meaning Judge, on top of all his extra stats to date, could have six extra games to play in the coming months. Not a good sign for someone like Trout who needs to climb a mountain to reach a goal.
So with of that said, what has to happen for Trout to actually get this done? Well for starters, and most obviously, he needs to pick up right where he left off. He needs to maintain an average above .315 I would say. Hitting about another 20 homers to hit at least 35 would certainly help. And if he could reach 30 total stolen bases, a 30-30 season in about 117 games would go a long way.
The way Judge is going, you have to expect at least some sort of fade. Yes, he is an extremely talented individual, but eventually, everyone hits some form of a slump. If he avoids that slump and keeps pace, a 60 homer season makes him a lock. Even if he crushes another 20, 50 likely cements him as this season’s MVP.
So from now until the end of the season, Judge is going to have to hit less than 20 homers in his 76 games. While it seems like that will be impossible given the display he put on in the first half and the Derby, you can never say never. If that does indeed happen, the door is certainly still open for Trout.
The overall standing of their respective teams could be the determining factor if the above does indeed come true. The Yankees currently sit at 45-41, good for the first Wild Card spot. The Angels on the other hand, are 45-47, which puts them three games behind the Rays and Yankees for the Wild Card.
The Yankees started off very hot, then faded a bit. So seeing them fade even more in the second half would not be a total surprise. Especially if Judge comes back down to Earth a bit. So let’s say for argument’s sake, they fall out of the playoffs. Then, since the AL is so weak, the Angels put together a string of wins, thanks to Trout’s dominance, earning them the second Wild Card slot.
In this case, Trout would be right around 30-30 with a stellar average and the reason his team made the playoffs. Meanwhile, Judge would be in the mid to upper 40’s on home runs, with about a .290 average on a team that fell apart. The debate all of a sudden becomes much more intense.
So sure, Judge could launch another 25 homers and lead the Yanks to the playoffs. That would mean even if Trout puts up Trout numbers, it would likely be a runaway for Judge. But the point here is, we are still only halfway through the season. Give Mike Trout 70 more games, and things can get real interesting, real fast.
While my money is still on the favorite Judge, don’t go cashing your tickets yet.
What do you think? Is Judge going to win this in a landslide? Will Trout come storming back? Tell us your thoughts on the AL MVP race in the comments below!