Predicting the MLB’s Top MVP Candidates for 2021
With Major League Baseball’s opening day set for next week, it’s time to predict how the 2021 season will play out. Which players will rise above this year and contend for Most Valuable Player honors? Read on to find out.
Aaron Judge was once called the “face of baseball” by the national media, and for a good reason. Judge debuted for the Yankees in 2016 and immediately became a star, as he hit a record 52 home runs in his rookie season.
After narrowly losing the 2017 MVP despite beating the winner in nearly every statistical category, Judge’s career has been ravaged by injuries. Judge has spent more time on the injured list than the field in the last three seasons, although when he is playing, he remains just as potent a player as he was before.
Judge will have the advantage of batting in the heart of the Yankees order, which may be the best offense in baseball. He will have ample opportunities to drive in runs and blast home runs off pitchers who have been worn down by the hitters in front of him. But his cushy position may very well be used against him in an MVP argument. Judge will have to go above and beyond to prove that he is back and better than ever this year.
What can be said that hasn’t already been said about Mike Trout? He’s certainly no stranger to the MVP conversation, having finished in the top five of voting in every season of his career but one and winning the award three times.
Despite being 29 years old, his career numbers are such that he would likely be a first ballot Hall of Famer if he decided to call it quits today. Trout’s career outlook has shifted from merely standing head and shoulders above his peers to chasing gaudy numbers like 3,000 career hits and 600 career home runs.
After a shortened 2020, Trout is looking to get back on track this year and propel the Angels to their first playoff berth since 2014. As previous voting has reflected, whether or not the Angels are successful will have little impact on his MVP chances.
Oakland Athletics third baseman Matt Chapman has quietly become the most valuable player at his position in the sport.
Chapman’s lack of press coverage is likely because he plays in the ramshackle Oakland Coliseum, in the shadow of the bigger-market San Francisco Giants just across the bay.
Oakland is no slouch though, having been to the playoffs the last three seasons, and Chapman has fueled the team’s success on both sides of the ball. Chapman’s superior hitting ability, combined with historically great defense will make Oakland the favorite to win the American League West. Should it also translate to an MVP?
Betts had an outstanding 2020 season after being traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers last February. He won both a Silver Slugger and Gold Glove and finished second in MVP voting as he led the Dodgers to their first World Series championship since 1988.
Betts, who was the American League MVP in 2018, will be seeking to accomplish the rare feat of winning an MVP in both leagues. Despite the powerhouse Dodgers having one of the strongest rosters in modern history, Betts still stands out as their best player due to his five-tool skillset and knack for coming through in the clutch.
As the Dodgers look to repeat as champions and fend off the new-look Padres, Betts will be a difference maker.
Fernando Tatis Jr.
Speaking of the Padres, how about their young superstar Fernando Tatis Jr.? Just weeks after he turned 22, Tatis signed an enormous 14-year, $340 million extension that may very well make him a Padre for life.
While some chided the Padres for committing so much money to Tatis this early in his career, it’s easy to see why the front office jumped at the chance. Like Betts, Tatis is a five-tool player, but he has yet to even enter his prime.
If the upstart Padres are going to finally end the Dodgers’ dominance in the NL West, Tatis is going to need to play like the MVP he can be.
Harper’s stardom has lost some of its luster in recent years after his first two seasons in Philadelphia resulted in disappointing finishes. However, the Phillies’ struggles were by no means his fault. Still just 28 years old, Harper has improved almost every aspect of his game since his early days as a member of the Nationals.
We may have been robbed of one of Harper’s best seasons in 2020, as he posted an elite .962 OPS and led the majors in walks. Harper remains one of the best hitters in baseball and could surprise some who no longer place him in the game’s inner circle.
Adam Babetski is a sophomore majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.