Every team has a candidate every season to at least have a plausible chance to win the MVP, and some have more than one. Today we will look at the AL East, and see the five total front runners, and the five total sleeper picks from each team. The front runner is the obvious choice on each team to take home the honors, and the sleeper is the player that many people overlook, but post above average statistics, or have the capability to do so in a season. I will also include the likelihood I believe of this happening out of 100 (1=no shot, 100=very much likely)
Front Runner: Trey Mancini (29/100)
Sleeper: Anthony Santander (20/100)
Now first, the obvious choice, Trey Mancini. Mancini is coming off of life threatening colon cancer, and is likely going to be okay to rejoin the team in 2021, and what would be a better heartwarming story after all the horseshit we have gone through in 2020, than Mancini taking home the MVP in 2021 and pushing the Orioles that much further in their rebuild.
On the other side, Anthony Santander is not a name that a good amount of people outside of Baltimore know of, but he is going into his age 26 season and broke out in 2018-2019, posting a .261/.306/.526 line with a .832 OPS. That .832 OPS is better than: Javier Baez, J.D. Martinez, Kris Bryant and Yoan Moncada to name a few, during that two year stretch. Santander is a sneaky sneaky player for 2021.
Tampa Bay Rays
Front Runner: Brandon Lowe (48/100)
Sleeper: Austin Meadows (31/100)
Brandon Lowe, if not for a second half slump, might have been the AL MVP in 2020, when all is told, Lowe still put together a .269/.362/.554 slash with a .916 OPS, 152 OPS+ and an 8th place finish in the MVP voting. Entering his age 26 season, there is not reason to think that he wont be back in the conversation for a Rays team that will be hungry to prove they aren’t going to regress after a trip to the fall classic in 2020.
The sleeper here, wouldnt have been the sleeper going into 2020, as Meadows was an All-Star in 2019, and finished 14th in MVP voting. But in the 36 games Meadows played in 2020, he was plain and simple, bad, He hit for a .667 OPS, and ranked in the bottom 5th percentile in K%, striking out 50 times in 152 plate appearances. There is plenty of hope for the soon to be 26 year old, as he just needs to get back to the player he was in 2019, when he hunted the fastball early in the count and hit to the tune of .300 against heaters, compared to his .213 mark in 2019.
Toronto Blue Jays
Front Runner: Teoscar Hernandez (47/100)
Sleeper: Bo Bichette (39/100)
When the Blue Jays team gets brought up, the young names like Guerrero Jr, Bichette and Biggio, you would think one of them would be the likely front runner, but no, I believe Hernandez, might be the most MVP ready out of any of them. Hernandez, is coming off of a season in which he posted a .289/.340/.579 slash with a .919 OPS, and an 11th place MVP finish. Going into his age 28 season, there’s no reason to think he wont build on his success.
Bo Bichette is an up and coming star in baseball, and his numbers are showing it, posting a .930 OPS in his rookie season, and a still great .840 OPS in his sophomore season. On top of his stellar bat, the thing that helps him the most, is the fact he has a great glove at shortstop, and is one of the faces moving forward on the Blue Jays.
Boston Red Sox
Front Runner: Xander Bogaerts (50/100)
Sleeper: Alex Verdugo (37/100)
The longest tenured current member of the Boston Red Sox, Bogaerts has been nothing but consistent throughout his tenure, posting a career .805 OPS in his 8 seasons with the Red Sox. During that time, he has finished top 20 in MVP voting three separate times in the last three seasons, and a 5th place finish in 2019. On top of that, he has won three silver sluggers, and is a highly underrated player in baseball.
Alex Verdugo was the big name involved with the infamous Mookie Betts deal, and he showed a lot of that talent in 2020, posting a .308/.367/.478 slash with a .844 OPS and a 126 OPS+ and finished 12th in MVP Voting. It appears how ever much pain the Mookie Betts trade caused Boston Nation, that Verdugo will likely help to heal some of that pain, and just wait for Jeter Downs, but ill save that for another time.
New York Yankees
Front Runner: Aaron Judge (82/100)
Sleeper: Gio Urshela (28/100)
It is only a matter of time until Aaron Judge stays on the field for a full season, stops swinging at the low and away slider, and puts together another outstanding season. It really isn’t a question of if Aaron Judge will win an MVP it is more along the lines of when he will. It will have to be a season when that outfielder that’s pretty good on the Angels, isn’t preforming at a Mickey Mantle level, which who knows when that will be.
It is hard to believe, that Urshela was once an afterthought with the Cleveland Indians, posting a .580 OPS in 453 plate appearances for the club between 2015-2017. Now he is an everyday starter for one of the biggest franchises in all of professional sports, and posting outstanding numbers at the hot corner. It isn’t too big of a longshot to see Urshela get even better going into his age 29 season.