If Trout’s win is a surprise, it’s only because many wondered of the impact of the fact that his team wasn’t in contention. Looking only at his numbers, the case was rather clear, and he got 19 of 30 first-place votes. It may have been only a typical season for Trout, but a .315/.441/.550 batting line, 29 home runs, and 30 steals (combined with outstanding baserunning and quality defense in center) represented the best all-around output in baseball. This is his second MVP, and the fifth consecutive year he has finished in the top two of the voting.
Mookie Betts was the other top contender for the American League prize, and he was Trout’s equal in most offensive areas excepting OBP (.363), but his context-adjusted output wasn’t anywhere near as good (171 wRC+ for Trout, 135 for Betts). That said, Betts was every bit as good on the bases, and graded better defensively, but still finished over 1 WAR behind. He received nine first-place votes. Star Astros second baseman Jose Altuve came in third in the race.
On the National League side, it was long apparent that Bryant would win. He very nearly did so unanimously, but second-place finisher Daniel Murphy garnered one top nod. In just his second season in the majors, Bryant blasted 39 home runs, put up a 149 wRC+, and made a difference with his glove and legs. That he was the best player on the best team in the game surely didn’t hurt.
It was a truly great campaign for the Nationals’ Murphy, too, who slightly topped Bryant in overall offensive production (156 wRC+) but wasn’t nearly as good in the other areas of the game. Corey Seager of the Dodgers, who took the Rookie of the Year award, finished an impressive third.