Why this AL race is the best MVP race ever

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Here's the hypothesis: The American League MVP race is arguably the greatest MVP race ever.

Here's the evidence: We already have six position players with a WAR of 7.0 or higher, plus a seventh candidate who is merely chasing a Triple Crown. To have so many players performing at such a high level is nearly unprecedented, which makes this MVP race so nike nfl jerseys china

The narrative is even more interesting because the national consensus seems to favor Mookie Betts, the league leader in WAR, but when I was in Boston last weekend, the local take from the beat writers and Red Sox players is that it's not clear Betts is even the MVP of his own team.3

David Price summed it up best when he described Betts as the MVP of the league, but J.D. Martinez as the MVP of the Red Sox. In other words, there's no denying Betts' all-around brilliance at the plate, in the field and on the bases, but if you go beyond WAR and give Martinez credit for making his teammates better -- oh, along with his monster production in the batter's box -- then he has been even more instrumental in leading Boston to its first 100-win season since 1946.

We all know the background behind Martinez's signing. In 2016, with David Ortiz leading the way, the Red Sox were an offensive powerhouse, leading the league with 878 runs and hitting 208 home runs. Betts hit .318/.363/.534. With Ortiz having retired in 2017, the Red Sox scored 785 runs and hit 168 home runs, even as home runs skyrocketed across the league. Betts hit .264/.344/.459. With Martinez signed to anchor the lineup, the Red Sox already have scored 786 runs and have hit 186 home runs. Betts is hitting .340/.433/ nike nfl jerseys cheap

The Red Sox rave not just about Martinez's presence, but laud him for being like another hitting coach on staff. He has helped Betts with his swing path. Price talked about how Martinez helps teammates during games, with their approach on how to face certain guys. I remember in spring training talking to Tigers manager Ron Gardenhire, a coach last season with the Diamondbacks when Martinez tore it up. He talked about how he has never seen somebody work so much at hitting as Martinez, with all the work he does behind the scenes.

Should Martinez get extra credit for all this? Maybe not. Maybe the MVP race is really just about the numbers put up between the lines -- and Mookie's numbers belong to him, not Martinez.

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