After missing nearly seven weeks of the 2017 Major League Baseball season, Los Angeles Angels outfielder and reigning American League MVP Mike Trout is still in position to repeat as the winner of the award. How is it possible to miss a month and a half of play and still win the MVP? It’s easy if your name is Mike Trout.

If there had been an MVP award for the first two months of the season, it would have been Trout’s hands down. He was leading the league in on-base percentage (.461) and slugging percentage (.742) and was near the top of every offensive statistical category. When Trout returned to action after the All-Star break, he was still the Angels’ leader in home runs. But, missing a considerable chunk of the season makes it very difficult to win one of the AL’s most coveted awards.

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Trout has the potential to play 123 total games this season. Only six players in MLB history have played less than 130 games and won an MVP (Barry Bonds was one winning in 2003). Trout will likely not lead the AL in any numerical statistical categories – home runs or RBIs for example – so he will have to lead in rate statistics such as batting average.

As of Aug. 10, Trout is batting .347, which would be second-best in the AL if Trout had enough at-bats. If Trout can continue his second-half pace, it is entirely possible that he will lead Major League Baseball in most rate statistical categories.

Since the injury, Trout is batting .363 with seven home runs and three doubles. His on-base percentage is .469 and his slugging percentage is .663. Trout, who has led the AL in WAR in each of the last five seasons, is slowly creeping up the charts once again. Aaron Judge leads the majors with a WAR of 6.0. Houston’s Jose Altuve, another MVP candidate, is at 5.7. Trout is currently at 5.0.

In the American League, Judge and Altuve are two of the more likely MVP candidates. Judge had an amazing first half of the season, but his performance thus far in the second half of the season has been shaky at best.

Since the All-Star break, Judge is batting a paltry .182 with just five home runs and 12 RBIs in 22 games. His batting average is the lowest it has been since April. With Trout playing so well since the All-Star break, it is likely that he passes Judge on the WAR charts and moves past him in the MVP race.

That leaves Altuve. The Astros second baseman is having a great season for the AL’s best team. Altuve is leading the majors in batting average (.364) and has 17 homers and 64 RBIs. Still, Trout’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage is better and it shows in his teams scores and odds.

Consider the following: when he turned 26, Mickey Mantle had played 952 games. He had 1,080 hits, 207 homers, made six trips to the All-Star game and had already won two AL MVPs. Trout is right there with him – 878 games, 1,000 hits, 190 home runs, six All-Star games, and two MVPs. It will take a great effort, but Trout could still win this year’s AL MVP.

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