The folks over at MLB.com recently were polled on who the MVP is in each league to this point in the season. While there were some discrepancies in the American League, there was a clear frontrunner in the National League, Ronald Acuña Jr., who received 42 of a possible 47 first-place votes.
1) Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves (42 first-place votes)
It’s not hard to see why Acuña received near-unanimous support from our voters again. The NL leader with 3.3 bWAR, Acuña is on pace for 32 homers, 70 steals and 140 runs scored with a .331/.402/.563 slash for a Braves club that is tied for the best record in the NL.
If the season ended today, I don’t think it would be much of a competition. Acuña would run away with the NL MVP. The are others worthy of consideration, but nobody has been better, and Acuña has all of the narratives working in his favor. He’s one of the most popular players in baseball, playing on arguably the best team in the National League, and his comeback following the ACL injury that hampered him for well over a year makes him one of the best storylines in baseball. Acuña will have to keep up this pace if he wants to win the NL MVP, but nothing to this point in the season suggests he’s slowing down. If anything, he’s only getting better.
The reason Acuña didn’t get all 47 votes is that there are a couple of other stars in the National League having spectacular seasons as well. One of them being a familiar face, Freddie Freeman, who received four of the other five first place votes. The former Braves first baseman and current Dodger is having arguably the best season of his career, hitting nearly .340 with an OPS of nearly 1.000. And over the last month, Freeman has hit .385. He’s unreal and certainly a candidate to win his second NL MVP.
The other player to keep a close eye on is Arizona’s Corbin Carroll. He’s well on his way to running away with the NL Rookie of the Year award, but he’s right in the thick of the MVP race as well. He’s another legitimate 40/40 threat that’s currently hitting .313 with 14 bombs and a .998 OPS while playing stellar defense in the outfield. With the Diamondbacks leading the NL West when most people projected them to finish third or fourth, Carroll is also another exciting player that will have a lot of storylines working for him at the end of the season if he keeps up this pace.
In my opinion, the top three players in the National League are bunched up, and then there’s a gap. However, that gap is not insurmountable because Luis Arraez is having one of the best contact seasons we’ve ever witnessed. He’s currently hitting a tad below .400 at .382 with more walks (19) than he has strikeouts (14). His lack of power will hold him back, but if Arraez manages to hit .400, it’s hard to imagine he won’t be seriously considered by a lot of voters.
Photo: Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire