Ranking the Favorites for MLB MVP in Both Leagues

MLB MVP

The MLB MVP race is considerably different from the Cy Young races as the majority of contenders are from teams that are in playoff contention. At least that is true in the National League, with all the contenders playing for teams currently sitting in the league’s top 6 spots.

While there is a clear favorite for the award in each league, the race for the top player in the NL is much closer.

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American League MLB MVP

1. Aaron Judge, Yankees

Judge is on pace for a career season though he has separated himself from the rest of the competition over the last 30 days, with a slash line of .405/.550/1.000. The 30-year-old outfielder has smashed 15 homers and drawn 23 walks with 25 strikeouts during this stretch. While Judge has excelled at the plate, he also has been one of the best outfielders in the league and has stolen a career-high 12 bases.

Judge is the main reason the Yankees have a top 3 offense and one of the best records in the majors. He is hitting over .300 for the first time and leads the majors in home runs, RBI, walks, slugging, OPS, OPS+, and total bases. He also hits a home run every nine at-bats and tops the junior circuit in offensive winning percentage and runs created.

2. Shohei Ohtani, Angels

The reigning MVP will always get extra credit for being able to hit and pitch. While Shehei’s offensive numbers are not as good as last year, his pitching numbers are better. Still, he has been pretty good at the plate.

Ohtani has hit 26 home runs and has 11 stolen bases, and ranks 10th in the AL in OPS and second in WAR. He is also second in the junior circuit in offensive win percentage.

However, it has been on the mound where the 28-year-old has shown out. Granted, Ohtani has had mixed results over his last four outings, but he is 10-7 on the season, and his ERA, ERA+, FIP, walks per nine innings, and strikeouts per nine innings are career bests. He also ranks in the top 10 of the AL in adjusted runs, and adjusted pitching wins.

3.Yordan Alvarez, Astros

After announcing his arrival to the big stage last and expanding on it during the playoffs last season, Alvarez has been the biggest bopper in an Astros’ lineup of big hitters in 2022. The 25-year-old was a real contender for MVP, but has struggled at the dish since missing nearly two weeks with an injury. While Alvarez has gone deep five times and has produced a .909 OPS over the last month, he is hitting just .267, which includes going 10-for-48 over the last couple of weeks.

Defense also hurts Alvarez, who ranks second in the AL in offensive WAR though he has a -0.3 defensive WAR. He also leads the league in championship win probability added along with on-base percentage while ranking second in several other categories, including homers, slugging, OPS%, and runs created, among others.

Analysis

The award is Judge’s to lose, and I don’t see that occurring unless he gets injured and misses the rest of the season. While Ohtani will likely get first-place votes, I believe Alvarez will jump over the Angel dual threat for the award if something happens to Judge. That is if Alvarez continues hitting homers and creating home runs; otherwise, Ohtani will take the hardware again.

There are other players that will receive votes, but in all reality, they are also-rans. Red Sox 3B Rafael Devers leads the list, followed by Indians’ second baseman Andres Gimenez and third baseman Jose Ramirez. Yankees’ DJ LeMaheiu, Twins’ Luis Arraez, Red Sox Xander Bogarts, and Angels’ Mike Trout round out my top 10 list.

National League MLB MVP

1.Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals

The 34-year-old has had a little resurgence over the last two years. Like Judge, Goldschmidt is poised for a career year as he is hitting a personal-best .328 with 28 dingers and 89 RBI. He needs just nine four-baggers and 37 RBI to new season-highs.

Goldschmidt also has been red-hot over the last 30 days. He is a big reason that the Cardinals have overtaken the Brewers for first place in the NL Central division, holding a 1.5 game lead as of Aug. 14. Goldschmidt has produced a slash line of .324/.410/.746 with nine home runs and 22 RBI as well as 11 walks and 17 strikeouts over the last month.

Goldy leads the NL in most offensive categories, including batting average, slugging, OPS and OPS+. He also tops the senior circuit in WAR, runs created, championship win probability added, offensive win percentage, and fielding percentage as a first baseman.

2.Nolan Arenado, Cardinals

After starting the first month on fire, Arenado significantly cooled off, but he has once again ramped his production over the last month and one-half to get back into MVP discussions. The 31-year-old is 41-for-120 with 11 dingers and 21 extra-base hits while drawing 13 walks and striking out 17 times since the beginning of July.

Arenado is tied with Miami’s starter Sandy Alcantara for the best WAR as he has been terrific on defense, registering the sixth-best defensive WAR in the senior circuit (1.7). He also ranks in the top 10 of the league in several offensive categories.

3. Austin Riley, Braves

Riley has been relatively consistent throughout the season and was tremendous in July. While he has struggled a little in the first half of August, the 25-year-old has compiled a slash line of .333/.400/.617 over the last 30 days. Strikeouts have been a massive issue for him; however, he has worn out left-handers all season long.

The first-time all-star has put up similar numbers as last year, where he finished seventh in MVP voting. He ranks second on the senior circuit with 30 homers – needing just three more long-balls to tie his career-high – and 10th in batting average. Riley also leads the NL in total bases, ranks second in the NL in offensive War, third in total bases, third in offensive win percentage, and third in fielding percentage at third base.

4. Manny Machado, Padres

Machado has carried the Padres offense all season long, and he has bounced back nicely from an awful July. The 30-year-old third baseman has 12 hits in the last six contests and is batting .333/ .381/.632 with three long balls and 13 RBI in 57 at-bats in August. The 6-time all-star ranks third in WAR among position players, second in win probability added, and third in offensive WAR.

5. Freddy Freeman, Dodgers

The 2020 NL MVP has twice earned Player of the Week honors as he has been one of the best with the stick in his hand this year. The 32-year-old first baseman ranks second in the NL in batting average (.320), second in hits, second in times on-base, third in on-base percentage, and tops the senior circuit in doubles. He also ranks in the top 10 in several advanced categories, including second in runs created, second in win percentage, and third in adjusted batting wins.

Analysis

Goldschmidt has been the most consistent position player in the National League all season. While it would be nice for Goldy – who has finished second in the voting twice – to win his first MVP, the race is extremely close.

I believe Goldschmidt, Riley, or Arrenado will win the award. However, there are seven or eight players who could finish in the top five. Trea Turner tops my list of other contenders, followed by Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Pete Alonso, and Dansby Swanson.

 


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