Mike Trout Aaron Judge
Mike Trout #27 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the American League and Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees and the American League during the 89th MLB All-Star Game, presented by Mastercard at Nationals Park on July 17, 2018 in Washington, DC. Rob Carr/Getty Images

The race for the American League MVP award might be as exciting as the pennant races that will dominate the second half of the 2018 MLB season. Several AL players put up big numbers before the All-Star break, making them MVP candidates with two and a half months left in the regular season.

Let’s take a look at the players that have a realistic shot at winning the award.

Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels

Trout’s been the best baseball player on earth for the last seven years. He’s deserved to win the AL MVP award in each season that he’s avoided a lengthy DL stint, and 2018 is no different. Trout’s numbers are as good as they’ve ever been with a .310/.454/1.060 slash line to go along with 25 home runs and 50 RBI. He’s the league leader in WAR and OPS, and his 15 stolen bases in 16 chances put him 10th in the AL.

The Angels are the No.1 obstacle that stand in the way of Trout and his third MVP award. The rest of the candidates are headed toward the playoffs, and the sport’s top player could be penalized if he doesn't have many meaningful games in September.

Mookie Betts/J.D. Martinez, Boston Red Sox

Boston might have the two best hitters in all of MLB this season. Betts (.359/.448/.691) appears headed for his first batting title and dwarfs everyone else with a league-high 1.139 OPS. Martinez (.328/.393/.644) leads both the AL and NL with 29 home runs and 80 RBI, and he’ll be a triple-crown threat if Betts goes into any kind of prolonged hitting slump.

Betts should get more votes than Martinez because of his much higher OPS and the fact that he doesn’t spend most of his time at DH like his teammate. Boston is on pace to have one of the best records in baseball history, and you can bet the Red Sox's top players will get plenty of MVP consideration if the team has a historic season.

Jose Ramirez/Francisco Lindor, Cleveland Indians

Here’s another case where two teammates could split the MVP vote. Ramirez (.302/.401/628) has slightly better numbers than Lindor (.291/.367/.562), though the shortstop could easily improve those numbers in the second half given that he hit .250 for the first month of the season. Ramirez is tied for the league lead with 29 homers, and Lindor isn’t far behind with 25 dingers.

Cleveland trails Boston by 14.5 games in the overall AL standings at the break, so it might be hard for one of the Indians’ stars to get more votes than Betts if their numbers are similar.

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

While much has been made about the Yankees’ vaunted lineup, Judge is the only real MVP candidate that plays in the Bronx. Giancarlo Stanton’s slow start probably knocked him out of the running, and Gary Sanchez never got going before being placed on the DL. Judge (.276/.392/.937), however, has managed to be nearly as good as he was a year ago when he finished second in the AL MVP race, and he’s got an even higher WAR than Lindor and Martinez.

Jose Altuve was able to beat out Judge for the 2017 MVP award because the Yankees’ outfielder struggled in the weeks after the break. Perhaps he’ll have a big second half this season, leading New York to an AL East crown and putting him back in the conversation as an MVP favorite.