The first eight weeks of the 2021 season have proved that, in spite of its problems, Major League Baseball still crushes the parity component. Despite the lack of an expanded postseason format, 24 teams are within six games of a playoff spot, while basically every division -- most notably the American League East and the National League West -- is providing tight races that should persist through the summer.
A lot of competitive teams means a lot of indispensable players. But which players are the most indispensable? Two months in, I thought it was a good time to identify each team's most valuable player thus far. "Value" is a relative term -- it means something different for 30 organizations. And while it's easy to just pull up each club's leader in wins above replacement, doing so -- particularly at this juncture, when defensive metrics can still deceive -- doesn't feel adequate.
These are the MVPs for each team not just for their stat lines, but for how important their contributions have been, based on the unique circumstances of their employer. There are several bona fide superstars on this list, of course. But there are also young players finally living up to their hype, established veterans who have recovered from awful seasons, unheralded difference-makers who deserve their due, minor league journeymen who came out of nowhere to contribute and, in one case, a player unlike anyone we have ever seen.
Here are the 30 players who have meant the most to their teams so far.