As hard as it is to believe, the 2015 baseball season already is 15 percent over. At this stage of the game, whether a player has a good or a bad start will have a serious effect on their final totals and as such, we start to be able to look ahead at this season's award hunt better than preseason projections.
As the great philosopher Mr. T once said, enough with the jibber-jabber, let's jump straight into the ZiPS award projections. Well, he might not have said the second part of that sentence.
AL Most Valuable Player
While Mike Trout is the easy favorite to lead the American League in either flavor of WAR, the MVP voting rarely strictly correlates with WAR. Triple Crown stats and team quality are still the biggest determinants of who wins the MVP award, with positional value being a much lesser concern among the voters and park effects and actual defensive performance barely acknowledged at all in the results.
It's still a Trout/Cabrera race, something that looks very familiar, but there's still enough uncertainty for another player to sneak in. Adam Jones is projected to finish very high in the Triple Crown stats and the O's still have an excellent shot at October baseball. Altuve's not a traditional MVP candidate type, but he did sneak in some votes last year and with Houston being relevant in the AL West, if the Astros win the division, voters might be kindly disposed to a second baseman hitting .320 and leading the league in stolen bases (as ZiPS projects). Nelson Cruz is one dimensional, but hitting homers is a nice thing to have as your one dimension. Jose Abreu puts up a lot of the stats that MVP voters look at, but to have a good chance he'll need the White Sox to play a good deal better.