At this point, it seems like the highest form of sacrilege to suggest that anyone other than Mike Trout has an outside shot at winning the American League MVP award, but bear with me. Chris Davis, who has been about as hot as anyone over the past 15 games, has a legitimate chance to be in the hunt for the award just a year removed from a truly terrible 2014 season. It may be a slim chance, but it is a real one, especially if Davis can continue swinging a hot bat.
For Davis to really have a shot at unseating Trout, two things must happen. First, the Baltimore Orioles must stay in the playoff hunt. It would probably be best for Davis’s MVP chances if the Orioles made it into the playoffs. If the Orioles miss out on October baseball, it will likely be thanks to the Toronto Blue Jays edging them out. The Jays have their own MVP candidate in Josh Donaldson, and if they end their lengthy postseason drought, it will boost his chances to win the award.
Secondly, Davis must maintain the torrid pace at which he has produced in the second half. In 19 games since the All-Star break, Davis has hit nine home runs and driven in 27. He’s done this with a slash line of .306/.383/.722. The 29-year-old sent Baltimore to a 7-3 victory over the Oakland A’s yesterday with a tenth inning grand slam. After the slam, Davis’s home run total sits at 28 to go along with 79 RBIs. He now has the fifth-most home runs in the American League and is an RBI behind Donaldson. The league leader in home runs, Trout is just four ahead of Davis in that category. Davis could conceivably claim both the home run and RBI title. End of year totals of 45 home runs and 125 RBIs seem reasonable estimations for Davis.
The Orioles’ first baseman/right fielder has just a .248/.330/.517 line this season. That pales in comparison to Trout’s .303/.394/.611 line, but is in the neighborhood of Donaldson’s .292/.358/.566 line. Another two months of continued power could easily push Davis OPS into shouting distance of Trout’s.
Davis’ line would look much better this season had he not slumped to a .196 batting average with 40 strikeouts in the month of May. Davis has already gone down on strikes 135 times this season in just 105 games (leads MLB), but for now the single-season record of 223 appears safe. Taking the month of May out of the equation, Davis has been consistent all year. He batted .268 in April, .257 in June, .272 in July, and has batted .278 so far in August. Davis looked lost at the plate the entire month of May, but he has righted the ship in a big way.
The American League MVP race is going to be a crowded one this season. Besides Trout, who is having his best statistical season, and Donaldson, Mark Teixeira, Albert Pujols, Lorenzo Cain, Eric Hosmer, and Manny Machado could have a claim to the award. Davis has definitely injected his name into the conversation, but will need to stay hot the rest of the season to stay in the race. When Davis is locked in, as he is now, there is no more dangerous hitter in the league. The 2014 season was utterly forgettable for Davis, but he has bounced back in a big way. Can he do better than his third place MVP finish in 2013? There are too many horses in the race to say for certain right now, but Chris Davis has a real shot at the American League MVP award when all is said and done in the 2015 season.