The 2023 MLB season is in full swing and some players are already making a strong case for the National League MVP award. While there is still a long way to go, here are some of the top candidates for the prestigious honor based on their performance so far.
Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves
The Atlanta Braves star is having a phenomenal season, he is among league leaders in batting (.345), on-base percentage (.437), slugging percentage (.613) and runs scored (40). He has also hit 11 homers, driven in 27 runs and stolen 18 bases, showing off his rare combination of power and speed. Acuña Jr. is the clear frontrunner for the NL MVP award across various sportsbooks and has helped the Braves stay in contention for the NL East title. Atlanta currently sits atop their division with a five-game lead over the second-place Miami Marlins.
Sean Murphy, C, Braves
Acquired by the Braves this offseason from the Athletics, Murphy has been a huge addition to their lineup and defense. The 28-year-old catcher is slashing .268/.400/.575 with 10 homers and 34 RBIs, ranking second in the NL in OPS (0.975) and wRC+ (179). He has also been excellent behind the plate, throwing out 20% of attempted base stealers and handling the Braves’ pitching staff well. Atlanta leads the National League with a 3.41 earned run average and has given up a league-low 37 home runs. Murphy is the rare example of a catcher in the hunt for MLB MVP honors.
Mookie Betts, SS/OF, Dodgers
The Los Angeles Dodgers’ superstar is no stranger to MVP awards, having won one in the AL in 2018. Betts has transitioned to shortstop this season due to Corey Seager’s injury and has handled it fairly well. He is also heating up at the plate, hitting .250/.360/.506 with nine homers, and 25 RBIs. Betts is a key part of the Dodgers’ loaded lineup and could surge on the NL MVP watchlist as the season progresses. Los Angeles currently has the best record in the National League.
Luis Arraez, 2B/OF, Marlins
The Miami Marlins’ breakout star is making a strong case for NL MVP. Arraez is hitting an NL-best .389 batting average, .444 on base percentage, and .486 slugging percentage. He hit one home run and recorded 15 RBIs. He has been the best pure contact hitter in baseball, striking out only 6% of the time and has gotten on base nearly 50% of his 144 plate appearances. Arraez’ Marlins sit second in the National League East and would hold a Wildcard Playoff spot if the season ended today.
Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets
The New York Mets’ first baseman has been the best power hitter in the NL so far in 2023. He leads the league with 15 home runs and 36 RBIs. However, he is struggling with a .232 batting average which would have to be improved to even have a chance of the award. The 2019 NL rookie of the year who finished with 53 home runs that season is on pace to eclipse that figure with 55 homers this year if he keeps it up.
These are some of the top candidates for the NL MVP award so far, but there are many others who could join or surpass them as the season goes on. It will be exciting to see who will emerge as the best player in the National League by the end of the year.
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