The Indians and Red Sox are playing a four game series in Fenway Park this week, which is a matchup of two teams who will be playing in October.
However, a secondary battle will be going on, with four big time candidates for the American League MVP on the field, Boston’s Mookie Betts and J.D. Martinez, and the Indians’ Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor.
The quartet are all in the league leaders in WAR, as well as ranking high in all of the traditional statistics too. Betts currently leads in WAR at 8.3, with Ramirez 3rd, Lindor 4th, and Martinez 8th.
In terms of offensive WAR, Ramirez is 2nd, Betts 3rd, Martinez 4th, and Lindor 6th. Betts is regarded as the best defensive rightfielder in the sport, but Lindor actually has a higher defensive WAR because he plays a more important defensive position.
In runs created, the four rank in the top five in the AL.
We aren’t going to comment on the two Boston players candidacy, but needless to say, both are great players and would be worthy winners of the MVP. But we think the two Indians have a better case, and here’s why.
The Tribe is third in the American League in runs scored despite no one besides Ramirez and Lindor having an OPS over 850 among players with over 100 at bats. Michael Brantley, having a solid season, is third in this statistic at 823 currently.
By contrast, two other Red Sox are over that figure–Xander Bogaerts at 875 and Andrew Benintendi at 877. Boston leads the AL in runs scored, and you can see why with four outstanding hitters in their lineup every day.
We have been saying this all season long, but the Cleveland attack is very often dependent on the two players manning the left side of their infield.
Really, who else is contributing on an every day basis offensively?
Edwin Encarnacion has dropped off from a year ago, his batting average down almost 30 points, his on base percentage down 60 points. Over the last month, we have seen opposing teams pitching around Ramirez in key situations to get to the veteran slugger.
Yonder Alonso has done well in maintaining the power spike he had a year ago, already setting a career high in RBIs with 70, but he hasn’t had as good a season as Carlos Santana had with Cleveland a year ago.
Yan Gomes has slumped after the All Star break, so Terry Francona isn’t really getting good hitting out of centerfield, catcher, rightfield, and second base. That’s almost half of the batting order.
Yet, the Tribe is scoring more runs than anyone in the Junior Circuit save for Boston and New York. That’s how valuable the duo of Ramirez and Lindor have been.
And it hasn’t been just this season either. Ramirez, of course, finished third in the voting a year ago, and Lindor has finished in the top ten the past two seasons, 9th in 2016 and 5th last season.
We also have to remind everyone again, that Ramirez won’t turn 26 years old until next month, and Lindor won’t be 25 until November. They are still getting better folks.
Right now, Betts has the WAR lead, and that goes a big way in determining the MVP, and we understand that. But if the word “valuable” is considered, keep in mind that the Indians’ offense is being carried by the duo of Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor.
That’s our case for both of them.