The league's most prestigious individual award, MVP, is in some seasons an obvious choice and in others a close call. It's still too early in JAL 16 to know which will be the case this season, but if it ended right now the competition would certainly be thick. Here's a look at the top 10 MVP candidates so far, ranked 1-10.
#1 Scott Coleman (Wrecking Crew - pitcher/batter)
Coleman is not only playing as good or better than everyone in the game, he's also balling on a budget. Unlike Kyle Godinho, Coleman's margin for error isn't as big. If he gives up 4 or 5 runs the Wrecking Crew MIGHT lose, whereas you'd expect the Express to still win because of their slew of offensive weapons. Coleman's supporting cast is playing well too and are meshing great around him, but the reality is that Coleman carries this team on his shoulders. Without him would the Wrecking Crew be 4-0, or even 2-2?
#2 Kyle Godinho (Express - pitcher/batter)
You're not surprised are you? Godinho picked up this season right where he left off last season when he hoisted the WWCD Cup for a third time. He's not only pitching lights out, as usual, but is also contributing to the offense with occasional long balls.
#3 Josh Burckhardt (Express - batter)
Burckhardt was surrounded with high expectations before his first two games last week... And it turns out for good reason, the rookie is already one of the best hitters in the game. What makes Burckhardt so tough to face is that he can put the ball anywhere. He's not just a contact hitter that smacks liners for singles and doubles, or just a power hitter that only goes yard... He's all of the above. The Express sure do know how to find talent don't they? Every season it seems they're bringing in the "next big star" and it looks like they've got another one here.
#4 Lane Traver (Waves - batter, pitcher)
So far, JAL 16 looks like it might be that "breakout season" people have been waiting for Traver to have. Traver is now in his 4th career season and he's never looked so good, especially with the stick. On Opening Day he became one of only 3 people to ever rip a home run on Kyle Godinho and chalked up numerous others in the Waves other two games. In the team's latter two games on Saturday, Traver also assumed his backup pitcher role and secured two wins. He is without a doubt the biggest reason West Coast is 2-1 and in 1st place of the National Conference.
#5 Connor Vermilyea (Cobras - pitcher, batter)
Vermilyea didn't play great Opening Day, which speaks volumes about his talents. Despite a probably C+ level outing for last season's Outstanding Rookie award winner, Vermilyea lead the Cobras to 2-1 and one of those wins was over former MVP pitcher Nate Williamson and the Bambinos.
#6 Erik Titus (Bison - pitcher, batter)
For whatever reason, the Bison decided not to pitch their all-star arm, Titus, in their first game and lost, but Titus hit the ball exceptionally well. Titus took the circle in their second game though, and held a potent Rapids offense to just 5 runs. He ripped the ball well in that game additionally.
#7 Ethan Erickson (Storm - pitcher, batter)
Dare we say Erickson is a..... "Franchise player." On Opening Day it looked like could become so for the Storm. Erickson didn't throw for the team until midway through their 2nd game because the team is young, rebuilding and was testing out all their options at the pitching position. When he stepped inside the circle though, it was obvious that he will be the ace going forward. He doesn't throw very hard (yet at least), but his sidearm style is efficient. Offensively, Erickson's small size is also deceiving as he's proved to be quite a threat so far.
#8 Nate Williamson (Bambinos - batter, pitcher)
Williamson's team may be 0-3, but Saturday was arguably the best we've seen from him individually since winning MVP in JAL 13. Williamson hit the ball incredibly well, had some untouchable moments pitching and made several plays in the field. The Bambinos will need this level of play to continue out of him to rally back in the standings and make the playoffs.
#9 Troy Flanagan (Rapids - fielder, batter)
If the season ended today, Flanagan would easily be handed the Fielding Crown award. Throughout the day, he made highlight catches and stops to keep the Rapids within striking distance on the scoreboard. With the bat, Flanagan was the best the Rapids had to offer as well. His team is 0-3 and he'll need that to improve for any real shot at MVP, but as long as he keeps having performances like Saturday, get used to Flanagan being in the discussion.
#10 Colton Steepy (Lawmen - fielder, batter)
Steepy is pretty much the same player as Flanagan, but right now, a lesser version. Because the Lawmen don't have very good pitching yet, Steepy gets lots of action in the field and was converting most attempts to stop balls Opening Weekend. Steepy's bat is also dangerous, making him the most well rounded player on the Lawmen roster
Honorable mention: Ethan Perdue (Lynx), Aaron Adams (Storm), Matthew Morton (Lynx), Colton Titus (Bambinos)