LA Times reporter Bill Plasky wrote a column on Thursday titled “The Game is Over. Mookie Betts should be the National League MVP.
By showing up at the ballpark the day before wearing a straw hat, Plasky was preparing to make the case for Betts’ MVP status. It emphasizes Betts’ all-around athleticism.
Betts plays right field, second base, and shortstop, and has hit a record number of home runs (39) as a leadoff hitter, so he should win the NL MVP over Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuna Jr. Both Betts and Acuna Jr. play right field and are top hitters.
Along with the Cy Young Award, the MVP is voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) on the last day of the regular season, so it’s doubtful that the voters will agree with Plasky.
Contrary to Plasky’s assertion, Acuna Jr. is ahead in the MVP race, especially if he adds three more home runs to join the 40-40 club (home runs and stolen bases), which would be a huge plus for MVP voting. In MLB history, only four players have joined the 40-40 club. Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez, and Alfonso Soriano. All have faced drug charges.
Through 15 games, Acuna Jr. is batting .335 (third in the NL) with 37 home runs, 97 RBI, 66 doubles, 133 runs scored, a .416 on-base percentage, a .586 slugging percentage, a 1.002 OPS, and a 7.6 WAR.
Betts is batting .312 with 39 home runs, 103 RBI, 13 doubles, 120 runs scored, a .412 slugging percentage, a .607 on-base percentage, a 1.019 OPS, and an 8.1 WAR (1st in MLB).
While the two front-runners sag a bit, Dodgers and Atlanta first basemen Freddie Freeman and Matt Olson are no slouches either. Both lefties are having MVP-type seasons this year. It’s just that Betts and Acuna Jr. are so far ahead of them that they’re overshadowed.
Of the four candidates, only Betts and Freeman have won an MVP before. Betts won the AL with the Boston Red Sox in 2018 and Freeman won it with Atlanta in 2020, a season cut short by the coronavirus pandemic.
Olson tied Atlanta’s single-season record for home runs (51) this year. It’s only a matter of time before he breaks the Atlanta record in the remaining games. The previous high was 51 by center fielder Andrew Jones in 2005. Olson leads the team in home runs and RBIs (128). He has a .279 batting average. Olson has benefited from the shift defense ban this year. An extreme pull hitter.
Freeman is batting .337 (second). He’s chasing the league-leading Miami Marlins’ Luis Arajuez (.349). He has 26 home runs, 99 RBIs, a .414 slugging percentage, a .576 on-base percentage, a .990 OPS, and a 6.2 WAR.안전놀이터
Freeman is on pace for an MLB record. Double plays. He currently has 55. There are only six players in MLB history with 60 or more doubles in a season. The record for most doubles in a season is 67 by Earl Webb. They’re concentrated in the 1920s and 1930s. George Burns (64) of the Cleveland Indians in 1926 is the only one, followed by Webb of the Boston Red Sox, Joe Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals (64), Paul Warner of the Pittsburgh Pirates (63), and Hank Greenberg and Charlie Gehringer of the Detroit Tigers (60 or more) in the 1930s.
The ballpark was larger than it is today, with deep center and left field fences. Freeman’s double stands out because in today’s smaller ballparks, reaching 60 is a matter of life and death.
The AL MVP is almost certain to be Shohei Ohtani (LA Angels), even though he has missed 11 consecutive games due to injury. The NL is much more interesting, however, with a four-way tiebreaker and the possibility of the MVP being decided by the end of the regular season.