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What are Eric Hosmer's MVP chances?

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Is Hos the best of the best?

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Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Eric Hosmer is having a career season for the Royals, putting up the kind of offensive numbers fans envisioned when Dayton Moore made him the #3 overall selection in the 2008 draft. With the Royals in pennant contention led by Hosmer's hitting, there has been talk that perhaps Hosmer could be in the running for American League Most Valuable Player.

Does Hosmer have a chance to become the only Royals player in history besides George Brett in 1980 to win MVP? Let's take a look at some of the leading contenders, as well as what Westgate Sports Book has as its most recent AL MVP odds.

Odds AVG OBA SLG HR RBI OPS+ WAR
Manny Machado BAL +300 .317 .380 .605 17 42 158 3.6
Robinson Cano SEA +350 .298 .350 .564 19 53 149 3.2
Mookie Betts BOS +700 .290 .338 .515 14 49 122 3.2
Mike Trout LAA +1000 .302 .409 .540 14 47 161 3.4
David Ortiz BOS +1200 .342 .421 .715 18 59 193 3.2
Xander Bogaerts BOS +1500 .352 .400 .520 9 46 141 3.5
Mark Trumbo BAL +1500 .279 .330 .555 20 51 131 1.0
Eric Hosmer KCR +2000 .320 .380 .523 12 44 138 1.5
Todd Frazier CHW +2000 .198 .296 .449 19 44 104 1.0
Jose Altuve HOU +2000 .341 .422 .537 10 38 161 3.7
George Springer HOU +2000 .268 .354 .472 15 41 124 3.0
Josh Donaldson TOR +2500 .278 .390 .571 17 46 155 4.0

What the odds mean is that if you bet $1 on Manny Machado at +300, you will win $3.00 if he wins MVP. Some of the odds are a bit curious, for example Todd Frazier is hitting under the Mendoza Line and has been less valuable than Paulo Orlando, by WAR, but he is second in the league in home runs, I suppose. Other players having seasons worthy of MVP discussion would include Michael Saunders, Miguel Cabrera, Victor Martinez, Nelson Cruz, Evan Longoria, Carlos Beltran, and even Salvador Perez, who has nearly twice as much WAR as Hosmer at 2.7.

But it is Eric Hosmer who has garnered the MVP talk, most likely because he has become the face of the franchise with his iconic run home in last year's World Series, the fact he plays a marquee position, and his good lucks and penchant for the spotlight don't hurt. He has put up excellent numbers this year, but are they MVP-type numbers? He is currently fifth in the league in batting average, ninth in on-base percentage, 19th in slugging percentage, 25th in home runs, 17th in RBI, and 30th in WAR (according to Baseball-Reference). Do these numbers stack up?

Let's look at the numbers of the last fifteen MVP hitters (pitcher Justin Verlander won MVP in 2011).

Year MVP AVG OBA SLG HR RBI OPS+ WAR
2015 3B Josh Donaldson .297 .371 .568 41 123 152 8.8
2014 CF Mike Trout .287 .377 .561 36 111 168 7.9
2013 1B Miguel Cabrera .348 .442 .636 44 137 190 7.3
2012 1B Miguel Cabrera .330 .393 .606 44 139 164 7.2
2010 LF Josh Hamilton .359 .411 .633 32 100 170 8.7
2009 C Joe Mauer .365 .444 .587 28 96 171 7.8
2008 2B Dustin Pedroia .326 .376 .493 17 83 123 6.9
2007 3B Alex Rodriguez .314 .422 .645 54 156 176 9.4
2006 1B Justin Morneau .321 .375 .559 34 130 140 4.3
2005 3B Alex Rodriguez .321 .421 .610 48 130 173 9.4
2004 RF Vladimir Guerrero .337 .391 .598 39 126 157 5.6
2003 SS Alex Rodriguez .298 .396 .600 47 118 147 8.4
2002 SS Miguel Tejada .308 .354 .508 34 131 128 5.6
2001 RF Ichiro Suzuki .350 .381 .457 8 69 126 7.7
2000 1B Jason Giambi .333 .476 .647 43 137 187 7.7
Average .326 .402 .581 36.6 119.1 158.1 7.5

Eric Hosmer's current numbers would put him on a pace to hit .320/.380/.523 with 28 HR 103 RBI and 3.5 WAR. Those numbers would be comparable to Dustin Pedroia in 2008, but that year was a flat year for offensive performance, with no player eclipsing 7.0 WAR or a 1.000 OPS. Pedroia also played second base, a position that requires a lower bar offensively than first base. Ten first basemen have won American League MVP since 1969, not a single one has hit fewer than 30 home runs.

It should be considered that Eric Hosmer is a Gold Glove-winning first baseman, even if the metrics disagree that his defense is the best in the league. However, first base defense is not revered all that much. Mark Teixeira won one of his five Gold Gloves in 2009, led the league in home runs AND RBI for a team that won 103 games, and he finished second to Joe Mauer.

What will help Eric Hosmer is the sportswriter narrative. Hosmer is the flashy leader of the Royals, a team in contention despite many obstacles (injuries, poor pitching, no hitting from DH, etc.). However Hosmer is hardly the only player with narrative on his side, as David Ortiz will be helped mightily by being in his last season, Manny Machado will be credited with Baltimore's surprising performance, Robinson Cano will be credited if Seattle makes the playoffs, and Mike Trout is Mike Trout.

Eric Hosmer is having a fantastic season, a legitimate All-Star season, but he is probably a far cry from MVP unless he comes up with a monster second-half. Knowing how streaky Hosmer can be at times, it wouldn't be out of the question to see him come up with that kind of performance. But as for now, he is probably a long-shot, who will perhaps be in the top ten in voting, but may not even get the most votes among Royals players if Salvador Perez continues to hit.