MLB MVP Rankings: Historic seasons lead way, but gap narrows in NL

MLB MVP Rankings: Historic seasons lead way, but gap narrows in NL

Welcome to the third edition of theScore’s 2023 Most Valuable Player rankings, where we look at the top five players in each league. The top tier of players is starting to take shape as we move toward the home stretch. Can anyone catch the frontrunners? Odds courtesy theScore Bet and Barstool Sportsbook.

American League

5. Luis Robert Jr., White Sox

Thearon W. Henderson / Getty Images Sport / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
SB
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

109
30
62
72
14
.270/.324/.558
4.4
+10000

The lone bright spot in an otherwise miserable White Sox season has been Robert’s emergence as a star, something the team has been waiting on for several years. One of only two players in the AL with 30 home runs, the 26-year-old sits second in the AL in homers, extra-base hits (61), total bases (236), and slugging, as well as third in WAR. He’s also one of baseball’s finest defensive center fielders, with six defensive runs saved and 10 outs above average. Robert has carried these awful White Sox all year, which has to count for something. It’s a shame that his teammates aren’t giving him any help.

4. Bo Bichette, Blue Jays

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

106
17
59
50
.321/.352/.494
3.3
+4000

Bichette has been the Blue Jays’ rock offensively, and the knee injury that recently sent him to the injured list only heightens his importance to the club. Despite spending the last week on the IL, he continues to lead the AL in both average and hits by wide margins. The latter is a feat he’s trying to accomplish for the third straight year, something only five others have done in the Junior Circuit since 1901. Bichette also places third in total bases (222) and eighth in wRC+ (135) and has improved his defense considerably at shortstop. Fortunately for the Blue Jays, Bichette’s injury doesn’t appear to be as serious as initially feared, though he’ll have to return quickly to maintain his place on this list.

3. Kyle Tucker, Astros

Bob Levey / Getty Images Sport / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
SB
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

111
19
77
62
23
.295/.375/.505
3.5
+3000

While Yordan Alvarez was sidelined, “King Tuck” put the Astros’ offense on his back and quietly thrust himself into MVP contention. Tucker is flying toward a 30-30 season and is also closing in on 30 doubles. He owns the AL’s fourth-highest OPS (.880) and wRC+ (141), places fifth in RBIs, and also ranks top 10 in average, OBP, slugging, hits (119), extra-base hits (47), and stolen bases (23). Tucker is difficult to strike out, taking almost as many walks (54) as he has Ks (62), and remains a solid defender in right field. His importance to an Astros lineup that’s lost several regulars to injuries while underperforming as a whole cannot be overstated. The team might be lost without him.

2. Adolis Garcia, Rangers

Tim Heitman / Getty Images Sport / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
SB
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

110
29
89
85
7
.266/.343/.532
4.2
N/A

Garcia’s ascent to stardom continues unabated. The 30-year-old is the AL’s RBI leader, but that only begins to tell the story of his brilliance. Garcia ranks third in his league in homers, runs, slugging, and extra-base hits (52), third in total bases (222), and fifth in wRC+ (138), OPS (.876), and WAR. He’s still striking out a ton but has worked hard to cut down his K rate while simultaneously bumping his walk rate to a career-best 9.9%, and his 47 walks are already a personal high. Garcia might also have a Gold Glove in his future, as he’s tallied seven defensive runs saved in right field and 11 outfield assists. Garcia is perhaps the Rangers’ most important player, anchoring the lineup all year amid a few injuries, and is a catalyst behind their rise in the AL West.

1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels

Kevork Djansezian / Getty Images Sport / Getty

HR
RBI
OPS
ERA
K/9
FWAR
ODDS

40
82
1.081
3.32
11.6
7.8
-10000

The major-league leader in home runs (he’s on pace to challenge, and possibly even break, Aaron Judge’s year-old AL record), slugging, OPS, and triples also owns MLB’s lowest opponent’s batting average (.186) and the AL’s second-best K/9 rate on the mound. If the injury-riddled Angels somehow crash the playoff party, it will be because Ohtani single-handedly carried them there on both sides of the ball. Need we say more? He’s the AL MVP. Just sit back and enjoy the Sho.

National League

5. Matt Olson, Braves

Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves / Getty Images Sport / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

110
39
97
85
.266/.371/.604
3.7
+5000

Olson’s been knocking on the door of these rankings all year, and it’s simply impossible to ignore him any longer. The 29-year-old has turned into a prolific home-run hitter, crushing an NL-leading 39 bombs to tie his career high, and is the only player in either league not named Ohtani who’s slugging above .600. Olson’s also the major-league RBI leader by a decent margin and places second in his league in extra-base hits (61), third in OPS (.975) and total bases (252), fourth in walks (68), and fifth in wRC+ (154). He’s turning in a fantastic offensive season as one of the linchpins of Atlanta’s deep and talented lineup and deserves plenty of praise for his evolution as a hitter.

4. Juan Soto, Padres

Matt Thomas/San Diego Padres / Getty Images Sport / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

113
24
72
65
.276/.419/.523
4.3
+10000

Soto remains among the best in the business at getting on base, ranking second in the NL in OBP while taking as many walks (an NL-high 99) as he has strikeouts. If he turned 20 of those walks into base hits, he’d rank top five in that category and have a higher average, both of which would probably garner him more notice. However, he doesn’t need those extra stats to help make his MVP case. The 24-year-old still places third in the Senior Circuit in wRC+ (158), fourth in WAR, fifth in OPS (.942), and top 10 in RBIs, slugging, extra-base hits (49), and total bases (205). He’s the Padres’ offensive engine and a big reason they’re still hanging around in the playoff race. Another top-five MVP finish is very likely in his future.

3. Mookie Betts, Dodgers

Ronald Martinez / Getty Images Sport / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
SB
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

106
31
75
92
8
.284/.384/.582
5.2
+3000

Even without the same amount of black ink on his Baseball Reference page as some contenders, Betts’ stellar season makes him an easy top-three MVP choice. The 30-year-old ranks third in the NL in homers and extra-base hits (61), third in runs and WAR, and fourth in doubles (29), slugging, OPS (.966), and wRC+ (158). Betts isn’t a 30-30 threat anymore but is smart on the bases and collects steals wisely. He’s striking out less, taking walks at his best rate since 2019, and provides a spark at the top of the order with 10 leadoff home runs. Betts’ surprising versatility also positively impacts the Dodgers, who regularly use one of baseball’s best right fielders without worry at second base – where he’s tallied four defensive runs saved in over 200 innings – and shortstop. This is a top-tier superstar who has a legitimate shot at his second career MVP award.

2. Freddie Freeman, Dodgers

Julio Aguilar / Getty Images Sport / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
SB
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

111
23
80
99
16
.340/.418/.595
5.8
+600

Betts might be the Dodgers’ most important player, but right now, it’s Freeman who is their best. The sweet-swinging first baseman is putting together a season for the ages. One of only three NL position players above the 5-WAR mark, Freeman leads the NL in doubles (40), total bases (264), wRC+ (172), OPS (1.013), runs (99), and extra-base hits (65), places second in the NL in WAR, slugging, hits (151), and average (.340), and is fourth in OBP. He’s even used his baserunning smarts to steal a career-high 16 bags, an impressive total for someone who will never be confused with a speedster. Freeman’s turned what’s felt like a runaway race for much of the season into one that’s closer than it probably should be, a true testament to his all-around greatness. If anyone can pull off this upset, it’s going to be Freeman.

1. Ronald Acuna Jr., Braves

Icon Sportswire / Icon Sportswire / Getty

GP
HR
RBI
R
SB
AVG/OBP/SLG
FWAR
ODDS

110
25
67
99
53
.339/.421/.582
6.1
-900

Acuna recently hit his 25th home run to clinch the 12th 25-homer, 50-steal season in MLB history and the first since 2007. When he inevitably hits his 30th, he’ll join Barry Bonds (1990) and Eric Davis (1987) in the ultra-exclusive 30-50 club, while a history-making 30-60 campaign remains well within his reach. The 25-year-old leads baseball in steals, runs scored, and OBP, tops the NL in WAR, places third in his league in average, hits, OPS (1.003), and wRC+ (168), and sits top five in slugging and extra-base hits (55). Once a notorious free swinger, he’s dropped his strikeout rate by an incredible 48% and has almost as many walks (58) as Ks (62) for the first time. While Freeman’s narrowed the gap somewhat, Acuna still holds a sizable lead in this race. At this point, it’s his award to lose.

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