The Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees have been fighting for first place in the American League East throughout the season, but that isn’t the only battle going on between division foes.
While Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve probably is the front-runner for AL MVP, the next two contenders come from the AL East.
Chris Sale appears to be on a fast track for the AL Cy Young Award, but that might not be the only hardware the star pitcher takes home this season. Although it’s extremely rare for a pitcher to earn MVP honors, Sale presents a case that certainly is worthy of recognition.
Sale’s 14 wins and 2.57 ERA currently lead the AL, while his 229 strikeouts lead all of baseball. In fact, Sale is on track to set the Red Sox’s single season strikeout record set by Pedro Martinez, who recorded 313 punch outs in 1999. The left-hander has far exceeded expectations in his first season in Boston, and his dominance on the mound has helped the Red Sox sit atop the division for the bulk of the season.
Conversely, Judge has taken the baseball world by storm, as many consider the Yankees slugger to be the face of Major League Baseball. Entering Sunday, Judge owns a .289 average with 35 home runs and 78 RBIs. The 6-foot-7, 282-pound outfielder has become one of the most feared hitters in baseball, even though he hasn’t played a full season in the big leagues yet.
While there’s still a month-plus left of the MLB regular season to dictate who garners AL MVP honors, Sale and Judge’s contention for the award have provided a major spark to the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry. And as we’ve seen in the past, voters typically favor those who lead their respective team to a division crown.
Both Sale and Judge likely will have the numbers worthy of an MVP nod at season’s end, but the difference could be made by which star’s team wins the AL East.
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