Anybody that follows baseball will tell you Mike Trout is the game's best player. At just 24 years old the guy has accumulated more WAR than 48 Hall of Famers. He has finished either first or second in the AL MVP voting every year he has been in the league and is having another fantastic season. So he should be MVP right? Depends who you ask.
Trout does not play for a playoff contender. In fact the Angels are in fourth place in the AL West at 63-79. Mookie Betts, Jose Altuve, and Josh Donaldson all play for contenders. So does the award have to go to one of them? Again, depends who you ask. One school of thought is that if a player on a last place team is that much better than everybody else he should win the award. Let's find out how much better, if at all, Trout has been than Betts.
The above graphic compares the two players. The number in parentheses is where they rank in the AL and the yellow highlight denotes which player ranks higher. The two are very close in batting average, homers, stolen bases, runs, and slugging. The first major difference is in OBP, where Trout is beating out Betts by over 80 points.
The next disparity is in WAR (according to baseball reference). Although Betts is second to Trout in the AL it is by a significant margin. WAR includes defense so let's take a look at just offensive WAR. If we do that Trout has him beat 8.7 to 5.4. He also crushes him in weighted runs created. This number shows how much better he has been offensively. Trout ranks first but Betts is just 12th in the AL.
So what has Betts done better? The answer is defense. Mookie currently has a defensive WAR of 2.2 compared to Trout's 0.9. Betts ranks first in all of baseball with 26 defensive runs saved and is second in out of zone plays.
So what does this all mean? Basically if you believe the MVP should go to the player having the best season, regardless of whether or not he plays for playoff team, then Trout is your guy. His wRC+ and offensive WAR prove he has been better than Betts offensively by a significant margin. If you believe that defense matters a lot and that the MVP has to come from a playoff contender then Betts is your guy. Let the debates begin.