The last time the Orioles went without a player in the top 10 of the American League Most Valuable Player voting was 2011, the year before the darkness of losing baseball subsided. While it seems unlikely that the team will boast the winner of the award this year (looks like a Mike Trout vs. Josh Donaldson battle at this point), it is entirely possible that they could have one or two representatives back in that top 10 group when it's all said and done.
In fact, MASN's Jim Hunter sort of flat out said yesterday that Chris Davis could be the MVP if the Orioles were on track to go to the playoffs. While I can see why Mr. Hunter may feel that way, it's possible that Davis isn't even the most valuable player on his own team. But the question remains, which Orioles will garner the most MVP votes? Because at least one of them will get a few.
According to Baseball Reference, here are the top WAR guys on the O's: Manny Machado (6.5), Davis (4.6), Adam Jones (3.4), Wei-Yin Chen (3.0), Darren O'Day (2.3), Caleb Joseph (2.2), and Zach Britton (2.1). However, you can pretty much eliminate everyone but the top three for pretty obvious reasons (i.e. not an elite stater, relief pitchers, platoon catcher)
Machado has semi-quietly had what could be the best season of his young career to this point. Fangraphs gives Machado a WAR of 5.9 while Baseball Reference bumps it up to a 6.5. He is slashing .289/.360/.491/.852; all of which would be career highs. Not to mention, he is yet again playing outstanding defense, boasting an Ultimate Zone Rating of 7.0. However, he has had more errors in the field than we are accustomed to.
Meanwhile, Davis' value all comes from his power, and rightfully so. He leads the MLB in home runs with 43 to this point. His 109 RBI are third in the league and his .558 slugging percentage is sixth in baseball. Not to mention he has a nice .264 batting average and an on-base percentage of .360. According to Fangraphs, he has held his own in the field with a UZR of 1.5 at first base and 2.5 in right field. However, Baseball Reference gives him a -0.8 for defensive WAR.
And of course, Jones is the leader of the team, the sort of the thing that can't really be quantified, but still pretty important during a long season. As far as numbers go, Jones has had another good season, but it is a tad of a drop-off from years past. Jonesy is slashing .269/.308/.476 with 27 home runs and 82 RBI. A torrid final two weeks could give him some positive vibes heading into the offseason. In the field, he is doing what he can to get rid of the small rumble that he is, in fact, not a great fielder. Fangraphs gives him an 8.0 UZR along with an Outfield Arm runs above average rating of 9.6.
While Jones is an important part of the team and still a top tier talent in the league, it has to come down to Machado or Davis. New school vs. old school. Machado has all of the sabremetrics in his favor and his propensity for the extraordinary play in the field is enough to drop your jaw. Davis simply smokes a baseball and does so often.
I think it will be Davis that ends up higher on the MVP vote. It always helps to lead the league in something, especially a sexy number like home runs, while also being near the top in another triple crown category. Machado has been immense in the field, but it's not enough to get past the braun of Crush.
Which Oriole do you think will end up closest to the top of the MVP voting? Let me know who and why in the comments or on Twitter @_TyYoung. Thanks for reading!