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AL MVP list highlights roster-building's importance

Shohei Ohtani’s recent American League Most Valuable Player Award gives the Los Angeles Angels five MVP wins in the last ten Major League Baseball seasons. However, having the league’s best player doesn’t necessarily correlate to team success.

As Ohtani earned his second AL MVP trophy in three seasons, teammate Mike Trout received the same recognition in 2014, 2016, and 2019. However, their impressive numbers were not enough to deliver postseason results.

The Angels made the playoffs once during the five seasons when Trout or Ohtani won MVP. Trout earned his first MVP award when the Angels clinched the American League West title with a 98-64 record. However, the Kansas City Royals swept them in that year’s Division Series.

That’s the last playoff appearance for the Angels. Therefore, they didn’t even make it past the regular season when Trout or Ohtani became the AL’s best player. They finished the 2016 season at 74-88 and their 2019 campaign at 72-90. Los Angeles had 77-85 and 73-89 records when Ohtani became MVP.

However, some players achieved the game’s highest achievement in the same year they won AL MVP. Mookie Betts did with the Boston Red Sox in 2018, a year after Jose Altuve and the Houston Astros became world champions. Unfortunately, a sign-stealing scandal tainted the Astros’ victory.

But those triumphs are more of exceptions, not the norm. In 2014, AL MVP Josh Donaldson led the Toronto Blue Jays to a 93-69 record, only to lose to the Royals in a six-game American League Championship Series.

Five years later, Jose Abreu and the Chicago White Sox entered the postseason with a 35-25 record. Unfortunately, they lost a three-game Wild Card series to the Oakland Athletics. Last year, the Astros swept Aaron Judge and the New York Yankees in the ALCS.

These results reveal that building a successful baseball roster is more than having one or two superstars. Instead, a holistic approach works best, given the sports’ arduous 162-game regular season. Other heroes must rise to the occasion when the top bats go silent. Defense and pitching are also integral to a championship team’s formula.

-Lance Fernandez

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