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One-on-one: Who should win AL MVP?

DJ LeMahieu – By Mason Klemm, Contributor

The Yankees’ DJ LeMahieu deserves to win the 2020 American League MVP.

He won the AL batting title this year with a whopping .364 batting average, getting his revenge on Tim Anderson for beating him last year. He won by a wide margin, too, as Anderson finished with only a .322 average. In fact, LeMahieu had the best batting average in baseball this season. 

Mostly batting at the top of the lineup, LeMahieu was instrumental in leading the Yankees to the playoffs this year, scoring 41 runs and leading the AL with a .421 on-base percentage. He also led the AL with a 1.011 OPS, which is a player’s on-base percentage plus their slugging percentage.

Some may argue that because LeMahieu only played in 50 games, he doesn’t deserve to win over someone like Jose Abreu, who played in all 60. However, since LeMahieu missed those 10 games due to an injury, I think he deserves it even more. Being able to come back from an injury and still perform your best takes skill and determination – great characteristics for an MVP to have.

Perhaps the biggest reason LeMahieu should win MVP is his Wins Above Replacement (WAR). His 2.9 WAR led the AL in 2020 and was 0.1 better than his counterpart Abreu. WAR is often looked at as a deciding factor when choosing MVP, as the last 5 MVP winners in the National League had the highest WAR in their respective season.

The race should be tight this year, and I think the value LeMahieu brings to the Yankees is unmatched. His stats show that he’s the most valuable player on his team, so he should win MVP.

Jose Abreu- By Matthew Lucas, Contributor 

On Nov. 22, 2019, Jose Abreu agreed to a three-year, $50 million contract. It was a gamble the Chicago White Sox were willing to take, and this year, Abreu gave them everything they wanted and more. 

While Abreu has been a great hitter through his first six years with the Sox, his seventh year was arguably his best.

During the 2020 campaign, Abreu batted .317, mashed 19 home runs (second most in baseball) and, most notably, was the only player to average an RBI-per-game, totaling 60 on the year. 

He also added 76 hits, a slugging percentage of .617 and an OPS of .987, all while playing in the second-toughest division in baseball.

Abreu not only dominated the weaker teams in the division (Tigers, Royals), but he actually performed better against the tougher teams in the division (Twins, Indians). Additionally, the White Sox played more than half their games against teams with over .500 records, giving Abreu even stiffer competition to face.

Abreu also had a breakout year in the field. 

Critics of Abreu have noted that ever since the Cuban entered the majors, his defense at first base has been subpar at best. 

Outs Above Average (OAA) is a new metric used to grade fielders on their range and skill at their position. In 2019, Abreu finished with a minus-3 OAA. This past offseason, Abreu made a point to work on his defense, and in 2020, Abreu finished with a plus-2 OAA, good for fourth-overall among first basemen.

Not only has the two-time All Star and 2014 AL Rookie of the Year shined for the South Siders this season, but he put them on his shoulders, and made big-time plays in big-time moments while leading the team to its first playoff appearance since 2008. 

That’s what an MVP does. He shines in the brightest lights, produces the best results and makes those around him better, and that’s exactly what Jose Abreu did.

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