MLB MVP race 2023: Evaluating 2023 AL, NL candidates and MVP history

Who will win MLB MVP in 2023? New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt took home the honors last year. Now, we look ahead to the 2023 season with an outlook analyzing the National League and American League candidates for the MLB MVP race.

Major League Baseball is the only American professional sport that wards two MVP awards, one to each conference. It allows two players to take home a prestigious honor, joining some of the best players in MLB history with the coveted award on their trophy case.

Bookmark this page for updates on the MLB MVP race throughout the season, including the latest odds and analysis.

Related: The Hottest MLB Cards From The 2000s, Including Mike Trout And Albert Pujols

Let’s evaluate the field of 2023 MLB MVP candidates.

MLB MVP odds 2023:Who will win Most Valuable Player?

MLB: NLDS-Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves
Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Unsurprisingly, the MLB MVP race this year will feature a lot of familiar names including perennial All-Star selections, All-MLB First Team nominees and former MVP winners. While there is a heavy favorite in the American League, the National League is more of a wide-open race with World Series contenders boasting the early front-runners.

The latest 2023 MLB MVP odds are via BetMGM.

NL MVP odds 2023: Evaluating the National League MVP candidates

Player Odds:
Juan Soto +550
Mookie Betts +900
Fernando Tatīs Jr +1000
Paul Goldschmidt +1000
Ronald Acuña Jr +1100
Manny Machado +1200
Trea Turner +1200
Nolan Arenado +1200
Freddie Freeman +1300
Pete Alonso +1400
Austin Riley +1600
Francisco Lindor +2500
Matt Olson +2500
Xander Bogaerts +3000
  • Juan Soto, San Diego Padres – An NL MVP favorite last year, Juan Soto didn’t quite meet expectations. However, he still boasted a league-high 20.3% walk rate with 27 home runs, a 145 wRC+ and a .401 OBP. Parked in the heart of one of the best lineups in MLB, Soto is an easy bet for 30-plus homers and a return to a .280 batting average and 160 wRC+ can win him MVP on a playoff team.
  • Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers – Mookie Betts hasn’t posted a batting average over a full season since 2019, which slightly diminishes his chances of taking home MVP. However, he is a lock for 100-plus runs scored, 90-plus RBIs and could hit 30 homers with a 140 wRC+ and may finish as a Gold Glove Award finalist. If he’s the best player on the Los Angeles Dodgers this season, that might be good enough to take home the honor.
  • Fernando Tatīs Jr., San Diego Padres – Fernando Tatis Jr. is eligible to return from suspension on April 20, so his stats should keep him in line with other NL MVP candidates. He last hit 42 home runs with a 157 wRC+ and 25 steals in 2021, which if replicated might earn him MVP this upcoming season. However, the PED suspension might swing enough voters to give the honor to an equally-deserving player.
  • Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals – We haven’t seen a player win consecutive MLB MVP awards since Miguel Cabrera (2012-’13). Considering Paul Goldschmidt is now 35 years old, history suggests the odds of him repeating are extremely low. Projected for a regression in OPS and home runs, Goldschmidt likely won’t be an MVP finalist.
  • Ronald Acuña Jr, Atlanta Braves – Ronald Acuña Jr. battled some issues in his first season back from a torn ACL, with a lack of power output becoming the biggest problem. A full offseason to get healthy and make adjustments should allow him to return to the caliber of player who can deliver a 30-30 season. Acuña Jr. is one of the most talented players in MLB and if he returns to his peak with the Atlanta Braves winning the division, he deserves MVP.

AL MVP odds 2023: Best American League MVP candidates

Player Odds:
Shohei Ohtani +200
Aaron Judge +500
Mike Trout +650
Julio Rodriguez +800
Yordan Alvarez +1100
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. +1500
Jose Ramirez +1600
Corey Seager +3000
Rafael Devers +3000
Byron Buxton +3000
Kyle Tucker +3000
Wander Franco +3500
Adley Rutschman +3500
Carlos Correa +3500
  • Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels – It took a season for the ages and the Los Angeles Angels finishing under .500 for Shohei Ohtani to not win AL MVP in 2022. While predicting the Angels to make the playoffs is risky, it’s safe to assume there won’t be another Judge-like season. If that’s the case, the player who hits 35-plus home runs with a 150 wRC+ and strikes out 200 batters with a sub-3.0 ERA is the Most Valuable Player in baseball.
  • Aaron Judge, New York Yankees – Aaron Judge had a season for the ages and his return to the New York Yankees is the best move for both his career and stats. However, Judge just delivered one of the best single-season performances in MLB history and his career numbers prior to 2022 (..276/.386/.554, 6.4% HR rate) suggest regression is coming for the 31-year-old. Based on that and the lack of back-to-back MLB MVP winners in recent years, it’s best to bet on someone else.
  • Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels – Mike Trout could become just the second player in MLB history to win four MVP awards. However, the 31-year-old is stuck on a fringe playoff team and he hasn’t played in 120-plus games since 2019. If you could guarantee Trout plays 120-plus games this year and the Angels are a Wild Card team, Trout would be our runner-up.
  • Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners – The reigning AL Rookie of the Year, Julio Rodriguez looked like a perennial MLB MVP candidate in his first season with the Seattle Mariners. While plate discipline will always be a concern, he’s a 30-30 threat right now who can combine for 200 runs produced. Seattle’s lineup is improved and the budding star should be among the sleepers to win AL MVP in 2023.
  • Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros – Before suffering a hand injury that impacted him in the second half; of the season, Yordan Alvarez slashed .306/.405/.653 with a 196 wRC+ and 26 home runs, neck-and-neck with Judge in our AL MVP race. However, the 2022 season showed that even if Alvarez is healthy for a full season, voters hold his status as a designated hitter against him and that has to be remembered when looking at the field this year.

MLB MVP 2022 results

Who is the AL MVP?

MLB: New York Yankees-Aaron Judge press conference
Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge won AL MVP in 2022, becoming the first Yankees’ player since Alex Rodriguez (2007) to win MVP honors.

Here’s a breakdown on how I would’ve voted in the MLB MVP races 2022, starting with AL MVP followed by NL MVP.

AL MVP race

Pos: Player AVG/OBP/SLG OPS Home Runs RBI wRC+ fWAR bWAR
1. Aaron Judge .311/.425/.686 1.111 62 131 207 11.4 10.6
2. Shohei Ohtani .273/.356/.519 .875 34 95 142 9.4 9.6
3. Yordan Alvarez .306/.406/.613 1.019 37 97 185 6.6 6.8
4. Andres Gimenez .297/.371/.466 .837 17 69 140 6.1 7.2
5. Jose Altuve .300/.387/.533 .921 28 57 164 6.6 5.6

Aaron Judge, New York Yankees

New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is the AL MVP. While Shohei Ohtani put up a phenomenal fight this season, Judge delivered a caliber of historical greatness that will rightfully go down as one of the best seasons in MLB history.

Related: Aaron Judge home run tracker

Use whatever stats you want. Judge is the first player in MLB history with 60-plus home runs, 90-plus walks and 15-plus steals in a season. He entered Saturday with the ninth-highest FanGraphs’ Wins Above Replacement (10.7) since 1950.

There is also so much more to consider from the star who is on the verge of becoming just the fifth Triple Crown winner in the last 75 years. Judge hit 60 home runs in a season when no other player sniffed 50. All of this in a contract year, betting on himself and delivering in historic fashion. If all of that isn’t enough, a 266 wRC+ in the second half (no other player above 185), 20.3% walk rate and 27 home runs in the second half solidify Judge as MLB MVP.

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Minnesota Twins
Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani wins AL MVP in any other season. The two-way phenom delivered a season like we’ve never seen before. He is the first player since 1900 to face 600 batters and have 600-plus plate appearances (Sarah Langs). He struck out 200-plus batters this season and was part of the 30-homer club, something no other player in MLB history has ever come close to approaching.

Incredibly, Ohtani saved his best stuff for the second half. Entering September 24, Ohtani boasted a .291/.374/.612 slash line with 15 home runs and a 170 wRC+ since the All-Star Break. On the mound, Ohtani sports a 2.59 ERA with a 10.91 K/9, 29.6% strikeout rate and .229 batting average allowed in the second half.

AL MVP ballots should be relatively close, Judge shouldn’t be a unanimous selection. Ohtani’s exceptional play both on the mound and in the batter’s box makes him the best player in MLB. Ultimately, it just isn’t enough to win a second consecutive AL MVP award in a year like this.

Related: MLB scores

NL MVP race: Nolan Arenado vs Paul Goldschmidt

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at Los Angeles Dodgers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports
Pos: Player AVG/OBP/SLG OPS Home Runs RBI wRC+ fWAR bWAR
1. Nolan Arenado .293/.358/.533 .891 30 103 151 7.3 7.9
2. Paul Goldschmidt .317/.404/.578 .981 35 115 177 7.1 7.8
3. Manny Machado .298/.366/.531 .898 32 102 152 7.4 6.8
4. Freddie Freeman .325/.407/.511 .918 21 100 157 7.1 5.9
5. Austin Riley .273/.349/.528 .878 38 93 142 5.5 6.5

Nolan Arenado, St. Louis Cardinals

The NL MVP vote makes for a great debate, with voters asked to weigh if they prefer defense or offense more. There is no wrong choice, it’s a matter of preference, but the choice here is awarding NL MVP to Nolan Arenado.

Look at what the 31-year-old accomplished this season. He is ranks third in Fielding Bibles’ Defensive Runs Saved (18) among players with 1,000-plus innings played. In addition, Arenado boasts the sixth-highest Outs Above Average (14), all while playing one of the most important defensive positions in baseball.

All of that is incredibly valuable for a team that is so dependent on its pitching and defense. Arenado makes life so much easier for his teammate on the mound, saving runs and routinely creating outs or erasing extra-base hits.

On top of this, Arenado has the third-highest wRC+ (151), the fourth-best slugging percentage (.535) and is on pace for a 30-homer and 100-RBI season. When you combine all of that with his fielding, Arenado is our NL MVP.

Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals

MLB: St. Louis Cardinals at San Diego Padres
Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports

It won’t be surprising if Paul Goldschmidt wins NL MVP. Entering the weekend, the St. Louis Cardinals first baseman leads the National League in slugging (.591), fWAR (7.1), wRC+ (181) and ranks second in RBI (112) and isolated power (.271)

Here’s the argument against Goldschmidt. He is slashing .235/.342/.412 in September with a 119 wRC+ and seven RBIs in his last 79 plate appearances. All of this has come at a time when the Cardinals’ lineup desperately needs a spark.

Defensively, he ranks 10th among first basemen (500-plus innings) in Defensive Runs Saved (two) and is 33rd in Outs Above Average (-7). That’s enough to give Arenado the nod over Goldschmidt.

Check below for our evaluation of the MLB MVP predictions and race heading into the season.

MLB MVP history and FAQ

Here’s everything you need to know about the MLB MVP awards, including its history and when it is announced by Major League Baseball.

Related: 2023 MLB awards predictions

Why does baseball have 2 MVPs?

MLB: Oakland Athletics at Philadelphia Phillies
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

There are two MLB MVP awards because Major League Baseball provides awards for both the American League and the National League. Just like with MVP, there are AL & NL honors for the Cy Young Award, Comeback Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year and Reliever of the Year.

MLB MVP winners: Who is the 2022 MLB MVP?

MLB: Game Two-Cincinnati Reds at St. Louis Cardinals
Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge won MLB MVP honors in 2022. Goldschmidt beat teammate Nolan Arenado, the runner-up for NL MVP, while Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani finished as the AL MVP runner-up.

  • 2022 – AL MVP – Aaron Judge, New York Yankees
  • 2022 – NL MVP – Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals
  • 2021 – AL MVP – Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels
  • 2021 – NL MVP – Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies
  • 2020 – AL MVP – José Abreu, Chicago White Sox
  • 2020 – NL MVP – Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves
  • 2019 – AL MVP – Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
  • 2019 – NL MVP – Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers
  • 2018 – AL MVP – Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
  • 2018 – NL MVP – Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
  • 2017 – AL MVP – Jose Altuve, Houston Astros
  • 2017 – NL MVP – Giancarlo Stanton, Miami Marlins

Related: Highest paid MLB players

Who has the most MVPs in MLB?

MLB: Chicago Cubs at San Francisco Giants
Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports

Barry Bonds won seven MLB MVP awards during his career. The San Francisco Giants icon holds the MLB record for most MVPs, winning them in 1990, ’92, ’92 and 2001-’04.

Who has 3 MLB MVPs?

MLB: All Star Game
Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

There have been 11 players in baseball history to win three MVPs. Most recently, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout became the latest player to win his third AL MVP. Before that, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez became the first players to do it since Barry Bonds.

Related: Highest batting average ever

MLB players with three MVPs

  • Barry Bonds – 7 – 1990, ’92, ’92, 2001-’04
  • Mike Trout – 3 – 2014, ’16, ’19
  • Alex Rodriguez – 3 – 2003, ’05, ’07
  • Albert Pujols – 3 – 2005, ’08, ’09
  • Mike Schmidt – 3 – 1980, ’81, ’86
  • Yogi Berra – 3 – 1951, ’54, ’55
  • Stan Musial – 3 – 1943, ’46, ’48
  • Mickey Mantle – 3 – 1956, ’57, ’62
  • Roy Campanella – 3 – 1951, ’53, ’55
  • Joe Dimaggio – 3 – 1939, ’41, ’47
  • Jimmie Foxx – 1932, ’33, ’38

This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.

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