The NL MVP race might not seem like a race at all if you look at the Vegas odds, but the stats tell a different story. Depending on where you look, Ronald Acuña Jr. is anywhere from -600 to -1000 favorite to take home the award, followed by Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, and Matt Olson. Let’s look at the numbers of the Braves and Dodgers superstars.
Ronald Acuña Jr.
For Acuña, he’s got history on his side. If he picks up the home runs a bit, he has a decent shot to join Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano in the 40/40 club. However, what’s really magical is the potential to establish a few clubs of his own — 40/50, 40/60, and maybe even 40/70. Even if Acuña fails to reach 40 homers, he should still easily become the first player ever to record 30+ homers and 60+ steals. Either way, history will be made this season, and he’s doing all of this while hitting over .330 with an OPS of nearly 1.000.
The NL MVP race is tighter than it might seem to some Braves fans, but I am still confident that Acuña will take home the award, even if he doesn’t reach the 40-home run mark. The Braves right fielder has the narrative on his side and sometimes that’s all that matters.
Acuna’s teammate is making a case of his own. Olson could potentially smash 60 homers while driving in 140 runs for the best team in baseball. Though things have shifted recently due to Mookie Betts’ scorching August, just a short time ago, Olson led the NL in OPS. He also led the league in total bases, which is now held by Acuna. Since the All-Star break, he’s slugged nearly .700 with a batting average north of .300; if he can continue that pace while keeping up the long balls, he’s got an outside shot.
Nobody is hotter than Mookie Betts right now. He leads all of baseball in fWAR while leading the NL in wRC+ and OPS — both of which are a tick ahead of Acuna. During the month of August, he’s hitting .400+ while slugging .789 thanks to seven home runs in 18 games. Moreover, he’s the best defender of the bunch. He could potentially end up with a .300/.400/.600 slash line. If that happens, I don’t know how Betts wouldn’t receive legitimate consideration.
Freddie Freeman is aging like a fine wine out west. He’s neck and neck with Betts and Acuna in nearly every stat but falls short with steals and defense. Still, he’s got an outside shot to claim the batting title if Luis Arraez falters. Moreover, he’s on pace to eclipse 60 doubles. Without looking at the odds, I’d give the nod to Mookie over Freddie, but the odds have the Dodgers first baseman as the frontrunner behind Acuña.
Ronald Acuña’s combination of power, stolen bases, and batting average is probably too much for any of these other candidates to overcome. I’m biased, but the narrative goes a long way, and the Braves superstar has that over everyone else in the race.
Photographer: John Adams/Icon Sportswire