With pitchers and catchers reporting next week, the discussion about potential MVP candidates has arisen and the Baltimore Orioles have a pair who could be in the running.
But, with an outstanding 2018, one of these two elite ballplayers has a chance of winning the coveted award.
The unexpected candidates
Richard Justice with MLB.com wrote about 10 potential dark horse MVP candidates in an article from earlier in February. There, he profiled players like Byron Buxton, Christian Yelich, and the two Matt’s with the Oakland Athletics, Matt Olson and Matt Chapman.
The realistic candidates
Unfortunately, Justice only included 10 players and none were from the AL East. It is difficult to imagine an MVP list without a few tried-and-true players. Consider Jose Altuve. He finished third in the race in 2016 before winning in 2017. Giancarlo Stanton did not receive an MVP vote in 2016, but he finished second in the running in 2014. It is also difficult to imagine an MVP race without Mike Trout, too.
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Yes, Justice’s focus was on dark horse candidates, but it’s the actual candidates who make the game interesting. With Machado in his last season under team control, he could have a record-setting season. With the surprisingly quiet current off-season, it appears that a subtle correction is happening in the MLB.
So much to play for in 2018
If this is the case, Machado could use this season to separate himself from the rest and show that is worth the nine figures that he will command. With an MVP season under his belt, the years attached to the nine figures could be impressive. So, could the number that follows the dollar sign.
What would be fascinating to watch is an MVP race between Machado and Schoop. It would be much better than watching a race between the New York Yankees big hitters, Aaron Judge and Stanton.
Schoop quietly had his breakout season and his first invitation to the All-Star Game. Machado was not an All-Star, but he did attend the game. The odds are good that he did not appreciate the snub, despite having one of the worst first halves of his career.
Machado has something to prove and Schoop is quietly making himself known around the League. The pair will certainly make the Orioles interesting this season, but the interest could extend beyond Birdland.