As we near the last two weeks in the regular season, the MVP talk is heating up. In the American League, the clear leader has been apparent for months. However, the National League is a race that is still up in the air.
1) Shohei Ohtani:
As I stated before, the AL MVP race has been over for months. Though Ohtani has hit an offensive slump, he has still put together a season for the history books. Over 139 games, he has 44 home runs and 94 RBIs. His .598 SLG and .957 OPS are also excellent. On the mound, he holds a 9-2 record, with a 3.36 ERA and 136 strikeouts over 21 starts. He hasn’t pitched since September 10th, but up until that point, he was looking like a prime AL Cy Young Award candidate.
It was reported yesterday that it is likely that he will not pitch again this year due to arm soreness, but his elite power production, combined with his 21 starts of excellent pitching has put him in the AL MVP lead.
2) Vlad Guerrero Jr.:
In really any other season, Vladdy would be in the MVP lead. He is having a tremendous year, as he is competing for a Triple Crown. He leads the AL with a .317 batting average, is tied for home runs with 45, and is also tied for third in RBIs with 103. Not only does he lead the AL in batting average, but his .406 OBP, .611 SLG, 1.017 OPS, and 173 OPS+ are all league-leading.
If he were to win the Triple Crown then it could really make things interesting, but even then, Ohtani dominating at a historic level as a two-way player should put him over the edge for AL MVP.
3) Salvador Perez:
Before the 2021 season, I’m sure no one would have expected Salvy to have the year he is having. He overtook the all-time single-season home run record for a catcher, as he has 45 on the season. He leads all of baseball with 112 RBIs and holds a terrific .871 OPS. Perez is also a force defensively, as his 41% caught stealing is tops for catchers in all of baseball. Sal is 31 years old, so his success both in 2020 and this year show that he is around to stay for years to come, even as he gets older.
Other likely top AL MVP finishers: Cedric Mullins, Marcus Semien, Aaron Judge, Matt Olson
1) Fernando Tatis Jr.:
While Tatis had to battle through injuries this year, in my opinion, he’s remained his NL MVP lead. He leads the NL with 39 home runs, with pairs nicely with his 91 RBIs. He leads all of baseball with his .635 SLG, and his 1.008 OPS is second in the NL. Voters may knock him because of his terrible defense that has resulted in twenty errors on the year.
Regardless, Fernando has put together an MVP-caliber season, and his .444/.483/.741 slash line over the past seven games shows that he is finishing off strong.
2) Bryce Harper:
While Tatis had carried all the NL MVP buzz for the majority of the season, Harper has quietly put together an MVP-worthy year in Philadelphia. His 1.055 OPS and 183 OPS+ are both league-leading, and his production has been the staple piece in an otherwise shaky Phillies lineup. He also has 33 home runs, and 36 doubles on the season.
While Tatis has been hot over the past seven games as I mentioned before, Harper has been scorching hot, posting a .500/.613/1.167 slash. If Harper stays this hot, it is quite possible that he could end up winning the NL MVP.
3) Juan Soto:
The 22-year-old Soto is putting together yet another MVP-caliber season. While the Nationals are in last place in the NL East, this is at no fault to Soto, as he leads all of baseball with a .457 OBP, aided by his league leading 120 walks. His .314/.457/.527 slash will certainly appeal to voters, who is looking for his second straight top-5 MVP season. Soto will likely have his first top-3 MVP finish in 2021, and it is just a matter of time until he wins his first NL MVP Award.
Other likely top NL MVP finalists: Freddie Freeman, Max Muncy, Jesse Winker, Trea Turner