Award picks: Donaldson the MVP front-runner

With just less than five weeks to go in the season, the pictures for each of the six main postseason player awards are clearer, but in none of these cases is the race over. That means today's hypothetical ballots would likely change if I rewrote the column after the final day of the season. I have a ballot for National League Rookie of the Year this season, so I can't and won't comment on that award until after the winner is revealed in November, when I will also publish my ballot and an explanation of how I voted.


1. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Toronto Blue Jays
2. Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
3. Jason Kipnis, 2B, Cleveland Indians
4. Chris Sale, SP, Chicago White Sox
5. Miguel Cabrera, 1B, Detroit Tigers

I said Trout was the MVP when we discussed the award on Baseball Tonight last month, but a July 26 injury to his left wrist presumably led to a miserable August, while Donaldson has surged ahead of him in overall value, thanks both to a big August and tremendous defensive production at third base. I do wonder whether Trout would look better by WAR-style metrics if he were playing left field and saving 15 or so runs a year there, but that's an ongoing and unresolved question for analysts. In the meantime, we use what data we have.

Cabrera probably isn't fifth in value, but the guy has a .460 OBP in just more than 400 plate appearances, with huge power. He might end up deserving the award this year and not getting it because of narrative.