The Most Valuable Player award is one of the highest an individual can earn in any sport. As the MLB season comes to a close, many recognizable stars are attempting to earn the award in hopes of leading their team to the coveted 2021 postseason.
In the American League (AL), the two-way generational player from Japan, Shohei Ohtani has been the leader of headlines all season.
After only being able to hit from 2019- 2020 due to Tommy John surgery, the Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher and designated hitter has finally tapped into his full potential.
As of Sept. 16, Ohtani has a win- loss record of 9-2 with an ERA of 3.32, while throwing 136 strikeouts in 115.1 innings. All these statistics, besides ERA (3.31 in his 2018 AL Rookie of the Year campaign), are career bests for Ohtani.
To go along with the career bests, he is walking hitters at a lower clip by only walking 8.7 percent of hitters faced, 1.4 percent lower from his rookie season.
At the plate, Ohtani is also putting together some career bests. Although his .256 batting average is not the highest in his career, his 44 home runs, 94 runs batted in, 91 runs scored, 23 stolen bases, .599 slugging percentage and .956 on- base plus slugging percentage (OPS) all are.
By excelling at both pitching and hitting, vegasinsider.com currently has Ohtani at a -5000 odds to win the 2021 AL MVP award.
Although Ohtani has been playing the game in a way baseball fans have not seen since the days of Babe Ruth, he is not the only player in contention for the touted MVP award.
On the north side of the border, Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is shooting for a career accomplishment that not even his hall of fame father, Vladimir Guerrero Sr., produced. Guerrero Jr. has found himself fighting for the AL triple crown (leading the league in AVG, HR, RBI). He currently leads the AL with a .317 batting average and a shared-lead with 45 home runs with Kansas City Royals catcher Salvador Perez.
Despite leading in these two statistics, Guerrero Jr. is currently third in the AL in runs batted in, trailing Jose Abreu who has 107 and Perez who has 110.
If he finds himself leading in the three categories by the end of the season, Guerrero Jr. would be the first triple crown winner in almost 10 years, since Detroit Tigers legend Miguel Cabrera won it in 2012.
Although Ohtani has the higher odds to win the award, Guerrero Jr. is the next closest player with +1400 odds. To help his case, Guerrero Jr. is also first in the AL in hits, runs and OPS.
In the National League, the MVP race is as close as it could get. On the west coast, two division rivals are playing the best in their careers in hopes of winning the acclaimed award.
After signing a 14-year, $330 million contract in this year’s offseason, San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. is living up to his paycheck. He currently leads the NL with 38 home runs and a .627 slugging percentage, while also posting career highs that all rank top-10 in the NL with 90 runs batted in, 93 runs scored, 25 stolen bases and a .996 OPS.
If Tatis Jr. were to steal five more bases, he would become the 65th member in MLB history to join the 30-30 club, which is when a player posts both 30 home runs and 30 stolen bases in a single season. He is currently favored to win the NL MVP with -250 odds.
For the Los Angeles Dodgers, Max Muncy has been the stand-out on a team full of all-stars. Muncy this year has posted a .256 batting average, the second highest in his career, while putting up 89 runs scored, 34 home runs, 89 runs batted in and a .921 OPS. To go along with an above-average offensive year, Muncy has provided elite defense at first, second and third base. He currently has +1000 odds to win the award.
On the other coast of the country, Philadelphia Phillies right fielder Bryce Harper is aiming to win the second NL MVP award in his career since he won his first in 2015. Harper has been crushing the ball in the city of brotherly love all
season, posting a .308 batting average with 32 home runs which both rank within the top 5 in the National League.
He currently ranks first in all of baseball with a 1.038 OPS to help put him at a +350 odds to win NL MVP, second to only Tatis Jr.
Two veteran first basemen are also fighting for their shot at MVP. Long-time Cincinnati Red Joey Votto has found a resurgence and his swing again by hitting 30 home runs along with 88 runs batted in. Votto has earned himself a .543 slugging percentage and a .907 OPS in 2021, both his highest since he finished second in NL MVP voting in 2017 (.578 slugging, 1.038 OPS). His odds to win the award are at +2500.
Long-time Atlanta Brave Freddie Freeman is building off his campaign last season and is hoping to be the first repeat-MVP since Cabrera went back-to- back in 2012 to 2013. Freeman currently has 30 home runs to go along with 78 runs batted in and a .902 OPS, also while being first in the NL and third in all of baseball with 108 runs scored. These statistics put Freeman at +1000 to win NL MVP.
With two full weeks left in the MLB season and postseason play approaching on Oct. 5, these players will add on to their statistics to create their best case to win the MVP of their respective leagues.