Every team, whether in first or last place, stands out. He’s someone who was the best player on the roster, the one who, if everyone played like him, would be the leader of the best baseball team. Each team has an MVP. Each team has a star.
We’ve chosen this MVP for every team so far. They don’t have patches on their jerseys, but their teams would be lost without them.
All stats come in Wednesday.
Blue Jays: RHP Alek Manoah
4-0, 1.45 MMA
It will likely end up being Vladimir Guerrero Jr. by the end of the year, but Manoah has been amazing for the Blue Jays so far, a revelation for a team that has needed every run he and his colleague have. starter Kevin Gausman were able to give them away.
Orioles: LHP Bruce Zimmermann
1.48 MPM, 1 HR in 24 1/3 innings
The Orioles’ throwing has been pretty surprising so far, and Zimmermann, a journeyman who grew up in Maryland but has been floating around in the minor leagues for six years now, is the perfect avatar of the improvement. Its peripheral numbers do not support this ERA, but who could? And how not to encourage the local kid?
Spokes: SS Wander Franco
You could have accompanied Ji-Man Choi here, if he wasn’t on the disabled list. Instead, we’ll go with the guy who will be this team’s MVP for the next decade; at least it looks like it.
Red Sox: RHP Garrett Whitlock
1 emergency room in 16 2/3 IP
Whitlock has done it as a starter and as a reliever, and he’s been vital to a staff that needs all the good innings they can get. The four-year extension Whitlock got last month is a symbol of Boston’s faith, and he’s more than delivered so far.
Yankees: RF Aaron Judge
.303/.361/.674, 9 HR
It’s all about health with Judge, and he’s been gorgeous and straight from the start. With all the drama surrounding the team and judge’s inability to accept an extension before the start of the season, it exploded early for a Yankees team that had looked unbeatable for a week and a half now.
Goalkeepers: 3B José Ramirez
.341/.421/.707, 28 RBI
It is now almost impossible to remember Ramírez’s terrible first half a few years ago. He’s playing at his peak right now, and he’s definitely an MVP favorite so far. The training around him has been better than expected and he is reaping the rewards.
Royals: RHP Zack Greinke
2.57 ERA in 28 IP
Look, I don’t know how he does it either. Greinke struck out seven batters in his 28 innings, which isn’t even the way they played baseball in the 1910s. And yet he leads this team in WAR and gives them the best chance of winning every five days, although the Royals are still 1-4 in his five starts.
Tigers: RHP Michael Fulmer
9 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 3 H
You could also have chosen the recently acquired Austin Meadows, but Fulmer filled the role intended for him – essentially, a freelance backup artist – perfectly. If they can get their offense in, the Tigers can get back into this thing.
Twins: CF Byron Buxton
The old axiom still applies: When Buxton plays, the Twins are a top-place team, and when he doesn’t, they’re something very different from that. He’s on the field almost every day now, so the Twins are in first place. It is apparently as simple as that.
White Sox: LF Andrew Vaughn
In a season where just about everything has gone wrong for the White Sox so far – and they’re still within striking distance in the AL Central – Vaughn’s emergence as the star the Sox have been waiting for for a long time has been a bit of a lifesaver.
Angels: CF Mike Trout
.319/.449/.694, 6 HR
You can pick Taylor Ward here if you want – he actually has better numbers than Trout so far, if you can believe it. But it’s Mike Trout, and that’s the good thing. It’s the trout we’ve been waiting for. If he’s healthy all year, this could be the all-time season… and the angels are in first place.
Astros: RHP Justin Verlander
2-1. 1.73MPM, 9.7K/9
The Astros couldn’t be sure what they would get from Verlander, who had barely pitched in two years. They got the ace they traded all those years ago, a guy who defies time and physics every time he stands on a mound at this point.
Athletics: 3B Sheldon Neuse
Much has been made of the A’s attempt to replace Matt Olson at first base, but what about the job Neuse is doing in place of Matt Chapman at third? The defense might not be quite there, but the bat certainly is.
Sailors: SS JP Crawford
The Mariners phenoms haven’t quite taken off yet, so it’s up to the alumni to carry the team. Crawford, a big Phillies prospect before moving to Seattle, gets the job done. He’s the best possible version of Crawford — really, a sneaky AL MVP contender at this point.
Rangers: SS Corey Seager
This Seager is having one of the worst starts of his career and is still Rangers’ best player right now, telling you everything you need to know about how Texas started in 2022.
Braves: RHP Kyle Wright
3-1. 1.74MPM, 10.7K/9
My apologies to Austin Riley, who has become a superstar, but there has been no greater revelation in Atlanta than Wright, who is an instant ace. His first step forward came in the World Series last year. Here is the next one.
Marlins: 2B Jazz Chisholm Jr.
Pablo López has been the ace on staff, but the Marlins have plenty of shots. They need bats, and that’s what Chisholm has provided, rising to the next level. He looks like a guy who’s about to make a whole bunch of All-Star Games, doesn’t he?
Food: RHP Max Scherzer
4-0, 2.61 AMP, 12.2K/9
You could go with Francisco Lindor, or even Jeff McNeil, here and you’d be fine. But no player exemplifies more clearly how different the Mets look this year from previous years than Scherzer. Having him on the roster makes the whole team feel transformed.
Nationals: RF Juan Soto
All told, Josh Bell – who actually has a higher OBP than Soto, if you can believe him – should probably be the pick here. But Soto is still the guy this whole team revolves around.
Phillies: RHP Corey Knebel
0.96 ERA, 4 saves
Despite all the talk of defensive issues heading into the year, the Phillies’ offense was a bit of a disappointment: how does Bryce Harper only have a .304 OBP? Knebel has been a boon to a traditionally beleaguered Phillies bullpen.
Brewers: LHP Josh Hader
9 1/3 IP, 0 ER, 10 stops
Choose your Brewers pitcher at this point. Corbin Burnes is a very good choice, because he dominates since a difficult opening day. But Hader allowed just two hits and finished every game he appeared in. It’s still the same guy.
Cubs: DE Seiya Suzuki
Suzuki was everything the Cubs could have wished for, becoming an early fan favorite. We’ll see if it can keep it that way all year, but for now it looks like one of the smartest pickups of the offseason.
Pirates: 3B Ke’Bryan Hayes
The power has yet to manifest, but otherwise it’s the star, both in attack and defense, that the Pirates expected to have last year. You can build around it, and that’s exactly what pirates do.
Reds: RHP Alexis Diaz
11 2/3 IP, 0.77 ERA
Yeah, finding Reds who are thriving right now is… hard.
Defenders: RHP Merrill Kelly
1.27 ERA in 28 1/3 IP
Kelly teamed up with Madison Bumgarner – who looks alike again – to give the D-backs a surprising 1-2 punch at the top of their rotation.
Dodgers: 1B Freddie Freeman
Picking a Dodgers MVP isn’t easy — they’re always great everywhere. But Freeman has had the best numbers in the roster so far, so we’ll just go with him.
Giants: LHP Carlos Rodon
3-1. 1.55MPM, 12.7K/9
What injuries concern? The Giants have maintained their veteran rejuvenation program with Rodón, which has been magnificent. And there they are, like they said, arguing about whatever you think.
Chaplains: 3B Manny Machado
It’s probably time for Machado to win an MVP award, right? He and Eric Hosmer have kept the Padres offense afloat with Fernando Tatis Jr., and when their star returns, this roster will seem almost unmanageable.
Rockies: RHP Chad Kuhl
3-0, 1.90 ERA
CJ Cron (and Randal Grichuk) are hitting the ball everywhere, and Kuhl isn’t really hitting anyone, but a 1.90 ERA while throwing for the Rockies will absolutely draw attention. Half of his starts have also been at Coors Field. He conceded three points at home and two on the road.