While it is still far too early to fully pick the winner of this award, there are definitely a few favorites in the race as of right now. Typically this award will go to guys who hit the ball more often. The last six winners have been guys that have raked at the plate and won games with their bats. The last pitcher to take home an MVP award was Clayton Kershaw in 2014 after going 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and 239 strikeouts. The NL MVP award always seems to be more up in the air than the AL MVP and this year is no different. Let’s check out the favorites to take home the NL MVP.
1.) Jacob deGrom- New York Mets Pitcher
Jacob deGrom should be the clear favorite at this point of the season. deGrom has a laundry list of statistics that are close to or have already broken records, and he looks unstoppable. The craziest stat of all is that deGrom has a higher batting average this season than he has allowed as a pitcher.
This season, deGrom is batting an incredible .407, while he only has 27 at-bats, MLB pitchers are only hitting .112 compared to deGrom’s .407 average. This season hitters are batting only .113 against deGrom (lowest since 1901), so a near 300 point difference in batting average is unheard of I would think.
Until I see a bad performance from deGrom, he should be the heavy favorite to win the NL MVP. Not to mention, he should unanimously win the NL Cy Young award for the third time since 2018. Jacob deGrom is on another level of dominance this season that needs to be recognized much like Kershaw was shown when he won the NL MVP and Cy Young in 2014. Keep deGrom’s name in this mix for a while until further notice.
2.) Fernando Tatis Jr.- San Diego Padres Shortstop
Until about two weeks ago, this spot was Ronald Acuna Jr’s spot. Now, Tatis has moved up thanks to his stellar month of June so far. With 22 homers, 50 RBI’s on a 2.85 batting average, Tatis is earning the mega-contract he signed in the offseason.
Last season, he burst onto the scene with what seemed like a nightly home run or two and his incredible speed both on the bases and in the field. Tatis gets the nod over Acuna here simply because he is leading the league in homers and RBI’s, and that should always get you into the MVP conversation, not to mention the Padres are still in the playoff hunt, so that helps his case as well.
Tatis is on a tear so far in the first half of the season, and if he continues his high level of play, then it will tighten his race with deGrom for the leader of this award race. Keep Tatis in this race until further notice as well.
3.) Ronald Acuna Jr- Atlanta Braves Outfielder
To be clear, Acuna is not far behind Tatis in this race. Acuna is sporting 20 homers, 45 RBI’s, and a .285 batting average for his line this season. If you did not notice, that means he is only two homers and five RBI’s off from being even with Tatis. This race is closer than most think and that is because Acuna is playing just as consistently as Tatis. What makes Acuna may be slightly more dynamic is the fact that he gets on base via the base hit a little bit more. Tatis is a home run hitter for sure but Acuna is a better situational hitter in my opinion.
Acuna, unfortunately, is on a struggling Braves team, but somehow, they are sitting in second place in the NL East at 35-37. There is still plenty of baseball left folks, so do not count out Acuna just yet because he is not leading the league in categories.
He is close to being even with Tatis and if that happens, this race will get even more interesting. Watch Acuna closer than Tatis to see if he can close the gap, but keep him in this race for sure to see if he and Tatis can battle it out to challenge deGrom for the top spot.
Stats from mlb.com, baseballreference.com and espn.com
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