Way-Too-Early MLB MVP Predictions
Opening Day has arrived, which means it’s time to try and accurately predict who will walk away as this year’s American and National League MVP.
National League: Manny Machado, 3B, San Diego Padres
After finishing as the runner-up in 2022, Manny Machado looks primed to capture his first career MVP in 2023.
Machado excelled at the plate last season, hitting .298 with 32 home runs and 102 RBIs. In addition, Machado had a career-high in offensive WAR with a total of 7.1.
Defensively Machado’s game took a step back as he posted his lowest defensive WAR since 2018 when he had a negative 0.4.
The Padres have a star-studded lineup highlighted by Juan Soto, Xander Bogaerts and Fernando Tatis Jr, who should give Machado plenty of opportunities to drive runners in.
With no clear MVP front-runner in the National League, this may be Machado’s best chance to win baseball’s highest individual honor.
American League: Mike Trout, OF, Los Angeles Angels
The future first-ballot hall of famer has struggled with injuries since winning his third MVP award in 2019.
Last season Mike Trout stayed relatively healthy as he played in 119 games. In those 119 games, Trout hit .283 with 40 home runs and 80 RBIs.
Defensively Trout may not be robbing home runs anymore, but still is an above-average defender and should generate a positive defensive WAR for the second consecutive season.
The biggest foil for a healthy Trout to win his fourth MVP is his own teammate. Shohei Ohtani is a once-in-a-generation player and enters the season as the favorite to win the award.
If the lineup around Trout can be productive, look for him to have a serious chance to capture his fourth MVP award.
National League: Juan Soto, OF, San Diego Padres
Now in his first full season with a new team, Soto will look to bounce back after an off-2022 season by his standards.
Soto hit for a career-low .242 average with 27 home runs and 62 RBIs.
The thing is, Soto still led the league in walks and had a 5.6 WAR in what was considered a down year for him.
Now, Soto is surrounded by all-star-level talent across the lineup which was something he lacked in his final years with the Nationals.
Soto already possesses an elite ability to get on base, but now with his RBI total likely to see a massive increase hitting around guys like Manny Machado and Xander Bogaerts he could find himself back in the MVP voting for the first time since 2021 where he finished second behind Bryce Harper.
American League: José Ramírez, 3B, Cleveland Guardians
It may not be a flashy pick by any measure of the word but year after year Ramírez has been a strong contender for the award.
With a fourth-place finish last year for the award, Ramírez has now placed in the top five in four different seasons with a second-place finish back in 2020.
The Guardians recently extended Ramírez and he is the key piece for a potential AL Central divisional push as he also has an improved lineup around him.
Second baseman Andrés Giménez was also extended after an all-star season and Josh Bell and Mike Zunino were also brought in to improve the lineup.
Ramírez hit for a .280 average last season with 29 home runs and 126 RBI and is definitely capable of an MVP-caliber season when he is already putting up numbers like that.
National League: Nolan Arenado, 3B, St. Louis Cardinals
Arenado is coming off a tremendous season with the Cardinals, finishing third in MVP voting.
Defensively, he was as spectacular as ever, winning his 10th straight gold glove.
At the plate, he looked like his old self, boasting a .293 batting average with 30 home runs and 103 RBIs.
The Cardinals have a well-balanced offense, providing plenty of opportunities for Arenado to drive in runs and help his team.
One issue for Arenado’s MVP chances is that his teammate, Paul Goldshmidt, is also on the team taking advantage of those opportunities.
Goldshmidt won the MVP last season, mainly because his offensive output was just a notch above Arenado’s.
Arenado has been in the conversation for MVP multiple times, but this year will be one of his best chances yet to finally win the award.
American League: Shohei Ohtani, P/DH, Los Angeles Angels
Ohtani should be the clear favorite for MVP every season considering how special he is on the baseball field.
As a hitter, he is an elite power threat, putting up 34 home runs and 95 RBI, with an impressive .273 batting average last season.
On the mound last year, he was just as dominant with a 2.33 ERA and 1.01 WHIP.
His historic season was special, but he ended up second in MVP voting behind Aaron Judge, who was the talking point of the season as he set a new American League record with 62 home runs in the regular season.
Assuming no other players have a record-breaking season like Judge just did, Ohtani is the safest bet to win the MVP award.
His hitting or pitching alone make him a strong candidate, but his two-impact is something that no other players can compete against.
Ben Palillo is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Logan Bourandas is a fourth-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.
Christopher Reynolds is a second-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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