The Duel

5 Underrated Players Who Can Win the AL or NL MVP Award This Year

By Kevin Nardone
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Earning MLB MVP honors is unique from its big four professional sports brethren because it is the only league that has two MVP award recipients, one that represents the American League (AL) and one from the National League (NL). This tradition is just one of many idiosyncrasies to the MLB that tradition-loving, long-time baseball fans beat their chest over, even if the more casual sports fans scratch their heads at the oddity.

The tradition dates back to the awards inception, back in 1931 and I wouldn't anticipate it going anywhere. Baseball loves its traditions. The second MVP slot does have its benefits, though it feels like each year a new name from either the AL or NL pops up as a winner. In fact, last year both the AL MVP winner, Mookie Betts, and the NL MVP winner, Christian Yelich were first-time winners.

While the odds at FanDuel Sportsbook favor players like Mike Trout and Bryce Harper to win MVP awards this year, let's take a look at five underrated players who could be poised to be the next surprise MVP winner.

1. Alex Bregman

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Alex Bregman is one of the hottest young names in the MLB. The Astros third baseman has been a big-time contributor since entering the show back in 2016, but he often gets over shadowed by the other big names in the Astros lineup, like Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa.

It is just spring training, but Bregman has looked great coming off of offseason elbow surgery, slashing (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging percentage) .345/.513/.724 in 14 games so far. This is a good sign that he is healthy and ready to build on a 2018 that saw him earn his first All-Star honors, while leading the league in doubles (51) and slashing 286./394./.532. Look for Bregman to be in the mix in September for AL MVP honors.

2. Khris Davis

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Okay, Khris Davis may be just as much of a long-shot as he is an underrated, but worthy AL MVP candidate. No full-time designated hitter has ever one the MVP award in either league, but Davis's numbers are too gaudy to ignore.

In 2018, Davis led the AL in home runs (48) while driving in 123 runs (RBI), but he only maintained a .247 average, which is low for an MVP candidate. He is just 25 years old, though, and if he can get his batting average or the rest of his slash numbers up, it would be mighty hard to rule him out as an AL MVP candidate, regardless of his position.

3. Tommy Pham

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Tommy Pham may not be a household name for casual baseball fans, but don't sleep on him to win the 2019 AL MVP. Pham just turned 31, but still feels like one of the newer faces in the game. He battled a ton of injuries early in his career and that has resulted in him being overlooked quite often.

Back in 2017, Pham had an amazing year, slashing .306/.411/.520 and adding on 23 home runs. He looked revitalized by the trade to Tampa Bay during the middle of last season, slashing .343/.448/.622 and adding seven home runs after the trade.

4. J.T. Realmuto

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J.T. Realmuto is another talented name on this list who has been criminally underrated, due largely in part to the fact that he has played his entire MLB career for the lowly Marlins.

2019 is a fresh start for him in Philadelphia and it comes with a couple of perks. Citizens Bank Park is one of the more hitter-friendly stadiums in all of baseball and he will have Bryce Harper to add protection in the lineup.

If he can build off of his 2018 campaign, one that saw him slash .277/.340/.484 and tack on 21 home runs, as a catcher, he may be able to parlay a 2018 All-Star appearance into being a 2019 NL MVP candidate.

5. Anthony Rendon

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There are few players in the MLB that have been overshadowed and underrated more than Anthony Rendon. His rise in Washington coincided with Bryce Harper's, who was one of the most highly-anticipated MLB prospects in history.

Now Harper is off to Philadelphia and more burden will fall on Rendon's bat. Despite battling injuries in 2018, Rendon led the NL in doubles (44) and hit over .300 (.308) for the second consecutive year. Don't be surprised if the decreased expectations in Washington coupled with another progression for Rendon results in him scooping up this year's NL MVP honors.

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