Astros: Carlos Correa an early MVP candidate with hot start

Houston Astros, Carlos Correa (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Houston Astros, Carlos Correa (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images) /
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Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa is an early MVP candidate.

We’re nearly one-fifth of the way through this 60-game season, so it’s not too early to look at how some players could fare in awards consideration. Thanks to a particularly hot start at the plate, Houston Astros shortstop Carlos Correa has to be considered an early contender for the AL MVP award.

Through 11 games, Correa is slashing .400/.489/.650 with two homers and six RBIs. He’s showing exactly the type of high ceiling we’ve always known he has, and his immense talent means he’s capable of sustaining something close to this level of production over the course of a 60-game season. It helps that he also plays excellent defense at a premium position.

He won’t be without competition, of course. The current frontrunner has to be Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, who leads the league in home runs, RBIs, runs scored, slugging and OPS. It’ll be interesting if the race comes down to Correa or Judge, much like it came down to Judge and Jose Altuve in 2017. Spoiler alert: Altuve was and still is the 2017 MVP.

Michael Brantley, if he can get healthy, might have something to say in this race as well, as he leads the league in hitting and on-base percentage. Twins DH Nelson Cruz would be in the mix too, though if David Ortiz never won an MVP, it’s hard to believe the voters would give one to Cruz.

The MVP Effect

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Correa has received MVP votes twice in his career, with his highest finish being 17th place in 2017. That’s also the only time he’s been an All-Star, as injuries and stiff competition at the shortstop position have kept him out. Unfortunately he won’t have a chance to make an All-Star team this year regardless of how he plays.

But if he’s able to at least finish in the top five of the MVP voting this year, Correa could cash in. He was set to earn $8 million this season before COVID-19 happened, so he’ll be due a raise on that figure for 2021. Then he’ll be eligible for free agency following the 2021 season, so this year could be pivotal for him.

A strong season would net him a hefty pay increase in his last trip through arbitration. If the Astros want to retain him for the long haul, a top-five MVP finish on his resume will only boost his earning power. The fact that he’ll reach free agency shortly after turning 27 means he could be in a position to make some big time money.

Of course that all depends on his ability to stay healthy and productive. There’s a lot to be determined between now and then, but a strong start to this season has Correa in a rather enviable position.

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