In 2019, DJ LeMahieu exceeded all expectations in a tremendous season. If someone had suggested in spring training that a longtime Rockies infielder who struggled to even hit league average in the previous two years would earn MVP consideration, they would’ve been laughed out of the room. Well, LeMahieu proved almost everyone wrong, finishing fourth in AL MVP voting. So what could he possibly do for an encore in 2020?
How about a near-repeat performance with even better numbers and MVP results? LeMahieu won the batting title and led the AL in multiple offensive categories with a .364/.421/.590 triple slash, launching 10 homers and notching a 177 wRC+. All this was good enough for him to ... move up one spot in MVP voting.
On Thursday, Jose Abreu of the White Sox was announced as the winner of the 2020 AL MVP, earning 21 of the 30 first-place votes. Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez used his scalding-hot September to finish second ahead of LeMahieu as well. The Yankees’ sparkplug was the only other player to receive a first-place vote, and his lone leading ballot actually came from a familiar friend — MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch. The Yankees’ MVP drought since Alex Rodriguez in 2007 lives on (while Aaron Judge takes aim at a Jose Altuve dartboard). Hal Steinbrenner should give him a blank check anyway.
In this shortened 60-game season, it’s hard to quibble too much with MVP voting. All three of the finalists had extremely similar numbers, and Abreu played a huge role — both on the field and in the clubhouse leading a young team — in bringing the White Sox back to the playoffs for the first time in 12 years. In a close race like this, that’s the kind of extra touch that can push a great player like Abreu over the top.
Also, LeMahieu appeared on all 30 ballots, but someone voted him eighth. Okey dokey then!
AL home run leader Luke Voit earned down-ballot consideration, too. He finished ninth in voting, placing as high as fourth on one ballot. Not bad for a dude who the Cardinals gave up on in 2018 and limped to the finish line in 2019.