There can be only two MVPs each season – Mike Trout and Kris Bryant are proof that not everyone gets a trophy on the major-league level – but there are always plenty of strong candidates.
In fact, every team has at least one. And here is the strongest candidate from each:
Angels: Mike Trout
The 25-year-old already has two AL MVP Awards (and three second-place finishes) that he’d probably trade for a second trip to the postseason. Until proven otherwise, Trout is the best player in the game and a perennial AL MVP favorite.
USA TODAY SportsKevin Jairaj
Astros: Carlos Correa
In his first two seasons, the 2015 AL Rookie of the Year has averaged 21 homers and 82 RBI with an .829 OPS. He’ll now hit in what might be the majors’ most potent offense, and he’ll add to his defensive highlight reel almost nightly.
Athletics: Khris Davis
He is coming off the quietest 42-homer season in recent memory and is hitting in the middle of what has the makings of a surprising Oakland offense. Translation: Davis is about to become trade bait.
USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
Blue Jays: Josh Donaldson
The 2015 AL MVP is now the biggest bat on Toronto’s roster after the departure of Edwin Encarnacion and the down year by Jose Bautista. Donaldson is an offensive machine capable of leading any lineup, not to mention his glove at the hot corner.
Braves: Freddie Freeman
He’s coming off a career year (34 homers, 91 RBI, .302/.400/.569) and actually has a decent lineup around him now. If Atlanta contends ahead of schedule this season, Freeman will get the attention he deserves.
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY SportsDale Zanine
Brewers: Ryan Braun
As the lineup continues to lose veteran sluggers and add unproven youngsters, Braun remains a Brewer – and remains productive. Consider him the Joey Votto of Milwaukee.
Cardinals: Matt Carpenter
After playing first, second and third bases in each of the past two seasons, Carpenter seemingly has found a home at first. Perhaps that stability – and a return to health – will help him duplicate his production from 2013-15, when he had a fourth- and 12th-place MVP finish.
USA TODAY SportsJeff Curry
Cubs: Kris Bryant
The last NL MVP to repeat: Albert Pujols in 2008-09 with the Cardinals (the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera did it in the AL in 2012-13). After a 39-homer season in which he posted a .939 OPS, it’s terrifying that Bryant still can be better.
Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt
His “down season” in 2016 included 24 homers, 95 RBI and a .411 OBP. Goldschmidt already has two runner-up finished in the NL MVP voting, though he continues to slug in relative obscurity.
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsMark J. Rebilas
Dodgers: Corey Seager
The reigning (and unanimous) NL Rookie of the Year also finished third in the 2016 MVP voting. And a strong case can be made that he will prove himself to be the best position player in the NL by this summer.
Giants: Buster Posey
The 2012 NL MVP’s impact goes well beyond his stats, as Posey is just as valuable behind the plate as he is at it. He’s a clutch hitter with 20-homer power, has a tremendous ability to handle a staff and owns a Gold Glove.
Indians: Edwin Encarnacion
Amazingly, Encarnacion has never finished in the top 10 in MVP voting, despite annually finishing among the MLB leaders in homers, RBI and OPS. He’ll anchor the offense on a team that could win back-to-back pennants, and he’ll continue to mash.
USA TODAY SportsJoe Camporeale
Mariners: Robinson Cano
In by far his best season since shedding his pinstripes, Cano had a resurgence at the plate (39 homers, 33 doubles, .882 OPS) and in the field (three errors, .996 fielding percentage) in 2016. He’ll earn bonus points if Seattle ends its 16-year postseason drought this year.
Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton
It’s been six years since Stanton played in 150 games, and his health could make or break Miami’s playoff chances – his bat can make up for a lot of shaky starting pitching. He is a 40- (or 50-) homer season waiting to happen.
Getty ImagesTrevor Brown
Mets: Yoenis Cespedes
Cespedes already is on the record as saying he wants to do what no Met has done before: win the NL MVP Award. As it has since he arrived in July of 2015, the Mets’ offense will go as Cespedes goes. And it’s gone very well when he is healthy (and even when he plays at less than 100 percent).
Nationals: Bryce Harper
The unanimous 2015 NL MVP wasn’t healthy for much of last season – though he won’t use that as an excuse for his across-the-board drop in production – but has been outstanding all spring and should return to form in a loaded lineup.
Orioles: Manny Machado
There are those who believe Machado already is the game’s second-best player and is closing quickly on Mike Trout – and those people aren’t crazy. He is equal parts power at the plate and glove at the hot corner.
Padres: Wil Myers
After years of inconsistent play and frustrating injuries, Myers finally has found a home in San Diego – unfortunately, his success will be overshadowed by his team’s lack of it.
Phillies: Maikel Franco
In his age-23 season, Franco led Philly with 25 homers and 88 RBI and will be a crucial cog this season if the Phillies are surprising contenders.
Pirates: Andrew McCutchen
The 2013 NL MVP is bursting with motivation after a down season in 2016, an offseason of trade talk and a spring training with a position change – he’s vowed to have a monstrous year.
USA TODAY SportsCharles LeClaire
Rangers: Rougned Odor
Only Adrian Beltre (.521) had a higher OPS among Texas regulars last season, and Odor, who swatted a team-best 33 homers and stole 14 bases, hasn’t even hit his prime (he turned 23 in February).
Rays: Evan Longoria
He’s coming off a career-best 36-homer season, has been remarkably durable (at least 160 games over the past four seasons) and has a great glove.
Red Sox: Mookie Betts
Last year’s AL MVP runner-up is primed for (at least) a 30-30 season, already is a clubhouse leader and plays Gold Glove defense (after switching from second base to center field to right field).
Reds: Joey Votto
Expect another 30-homer, 90-RBI season from the 2010 NL MVP – unless, of course, opponents opt to walk him 200 times to take their chances elsewhere in Cincinnati’s depleted lineup.
Rockies: Nolan Arenado
Four Gold Gloves (in four MLB seasons) and two consecutive years leading the NL in homers and RBI … even if Colorado doesn’t contend, Arenado will remain in the MVP discussion.
USA TODAY SportsIsaiah J. Downing
Royals: Eric Hosmer
Hosmer’s contract year comes on the heels of the best season of his career and coincides with the last stand of Kansas City’s highly successful core – making him an MVP candidate and perhaps a coveted trade chip.
Peter G. Aiken-USA TODAY SportsPeter Aiken
Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
The two-time AL MVP and offensive machine has finished outside of the top 10 in the voting just once in the past eight years – only because Miggy missed 43 games in 2015.
John RiegerJohn Rieger-USA TODAY Sports
Twins: Brian Dozier
After a 42-homer, 99-RBI, 136 OPS+ season, the big question is whether Dozier will remain in Minnesota long enough to be its top MVP candidate.
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY SportsJesse Johnson
White Sox: Todd Frazier
His .225/.302/.464 slash line from 2016 wasn’t too impressive, but his 40 homers and 98 RBI in his first season in Chicago were career highs. However, will Frazier finish a second season in Chicago?
Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
Yankees: Gary Sanchez
Despite playing only a third of a season in the majors, Sanchez already is New York’s most feared bat and is tasked with handling an underwhelming rotation and overwhelming bullpen.