American League (AL): Mike Trout, Angels 74-88
National League (NL): Kris Bryant, Cubs 103-58
The obvious difference is that Bryant played for the team with the best record and Trout played for a team that lost many more games than it won. The Minnesota Twins had the fewest wins: 59. Maybe if the Twins had Mike Trout they would have had closer to 70 wins, like Trout's Angels.
Previous MVP have played for teams with losing records or that were low in the standings. Trout may have finally shattered the inclination of the voters to favor players on teams that contended for post season play, whether in the old pennant winner non-division eight team leagues or in the recent 15 team conferences with three division winners plus two wild card teams qualifying for the tournament.
The modern MVP award started in 1931. In the 86 years, there have been 173 MVP awards, including the 1979 NL tie: Willie Stargell (Pirates, 1) and Keith Hernandez (Cardinals, 3). Stargell's Pirates won the World Series. Including Trout in 2016, the MVP has been on a non first place team 55 times out of 173, 31.8%.
In 1932 Chuck Klein of the Philadelphia Athletics won the AL MVP. His team was 78-76, fourth among eight teams and well behind the pennant winning Yankees. Klein led the AL in Hits and Home Runs. In 1933 Klein had the triple crown, leading in HR, RBI, BA.
Other early year MVP from fourth place teams:
1937 NL: Joe Medwick, Cardinals 81-73
1938 NL: Ernie Lombardi, Reds 82-68
Of the 55 non first place MVP, the number by team rank:
21 MVP from teams lower than second, sorted descending by Rank:
2003: Alex Rodriguez, Rangers fourth
2008: Albert Pujols, Cardinals fourth
Played on third place contending teams with more than 90 wins:
1964 Brooks Robinson Orioles 97, 2 back of Yankees
1966 Roberto Clemente Pirates 92, 2 back of Dodgers
Like Mike Trout in 2016, six times the MVP played on teams with losing records, only Mr. Cub Ernie Banks more than once, :
Note: Mike Schmidt won in 1981 in that messed up season that was missing a lor games in the middle because of a work stoppage. An impromptu split season was created. Schmidt's Phillies won the first half, which qualified them for an impromptu five game series against Montreal, which the Phillies lost. The Phillies were third in the second half and third over all.
So there's more precedent for MVP on a losing team than many realize but the inclination to vote for players on contenders has been very strong right through 2016.