By Brian Reiff

Everybody loves a good surprise.

One example might be winning the lottery. You may claim that it wasn’t a surprise, that you knew playing the birthday of your father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate was always going to win, but you’d be lying to yourself.

There are also things that are not all that surprising. One of those things is Mike Trout being good at baseball. He’s led MLB in Win Shares four of the last six years, with fellow AL West player José Altuve surpassing him the other two times. Therefore, it’s not all that surprising that, for a seventh consecutive season, the (as-of-yet-unreal) Win Shares trophy is staying in the division. What may be surprising is its recipient.

Marcus Semien led the way in 2019 with 36 Win Shares, three more than any of his competitors (Trout, Christian Yelich, and DJ LeMahieu all had 33). It was a career year for the shortstop, who accumulated more Win Shares this season than in his previous two combined and increased his career total (dating back to 2013) by 50%.

Eight other players had at least 29 Win Shares, the threshold set forth by this book’s namesake to designate MVP candidates: Trout, LeMahieu and Alex Bregman from the AL, and Yelich, Cody BellingerAnthony RendonKetel Marte and Ozzie Albies from the NL.

The AL MVP finalists are Trout, Bregman, and Semien. The NL finalists are Yelich, Bellinger, and Rendon. The winners will be announced Thursday at 6pm ET on MLB Network.

This essay was an excerpt from a section on Win Shares in the 2020 Bill James Handbook, which is on sale now at ACTA Sports and wherever you buy your books.

Most Win Shares – 2019 Season
Name Win Shares
Marcus Semien 36
Christian Yelich 33
DJ LeMahieu 33
Mike Trout 33
Anthony Rendon 31
Cody Bellinger 31
Alex Bregman 31
Ozzie Albies 29
Ketel Marte 29
Gleyber Torres 28
Freddie Freeman 28
Ronald Acuna Jr. 28

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