MLB MVP Watch: Fernando Tatis Jr. joins the National League race
As the calendar prepares to flip to May, it's time to check in on the early MLB MVP candidates.
According to FOX Bet's insights, here are the three MVP favorites in both the AL and NL, with a breakdown of each candidate's recent play along with analysis from our MLB experts — Ben Verlander, Jordan Shusterman and Jake Mintz.
Let's get to it!
(Note: All stats and odds information current prior to Thursday's matchups)
1. Mike Trout (+200)
How it's going: Stop us if you've heard this one before: Mike Trout is absolutely raking for the Los Angeles Angels yet again. He's leading the majors with a ridiculous OPS of 1.306, which is more than that 300 points higher than his career average. While some regression back to the mean is expected, even Trout's mean isn't fair.
Shusterman's thoughts: "Just when you thought he couldn't get any better, the Millville Meteor just rattled off arguably the best month of his entire career and continues to lead the league in OPS by a whole 100 points over the guy in second place, our NL favorite Acuña. More importantly, the Angels have continued to hang around at or above .500, which is probably all that will need to happen for Trout to win the MVP this season if he continues at this blistering pace. We are all witnesses."
2. Shohei Ohtani (+1000)
How it's going: Despite hovering at .500, the Angels are one of the most entertaining teams in baseball. There's Trout, of course, but then there's Shohei Ohtani, who does things on a baseball field that even Trout can't fathom. It's true, Ohtani's combination of plate AND mound prowess have folks evoking the legend of one Babe Ruth.
Verlander's thoughts: "Ohtani is the most exciting player to watch in baseball. He’s doing things that haven’t been done since BABE RUTH! The guy is absolutely must-watch TV every single game. When he made his last start on the mound, he was the first MLB player since Babe Ruth 100 years ago to start on the mound while also leading the league in home runs."
3. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (+1100)
How it's going: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has huge expectations on his shoulders, and he's handling his business quite well. His biggest highlight of this young baseball season came with a three-homer, seven-RBI game against the Washington Nationals on Tuesday. Hitting three long balls in one game is something even his father, Vlad Guerrero Sr., never managed in his Hall of Fame career. Naturally, Vladdy Sr. was watching and chimed in on his son's success on Twitter.
Mintz's thoughts: "Youngest American Leaguer to homer thrice in a game since 1963? That’ll work. Vladdy’s three-tater evening was unequivocally a Night That People Will Remember, but the 22-year-old has been crushing the ball all year. He’s a great reminder that not all top prospects set the world on fire immediately. But now in his third full MLB season, Guerrero is rounding into his final form, ascending to his peak. And with his outlandish power, incredible hand-eye, feel for the barrel, baseball lineage, enormous legs, phenomenal hair and delightful smile, it looks like Vladdy is just gonna be this good and this entertaining for the foreseeable future."
1. Ronald Acuña Jr. (+300)
How it's going: With eight home runs coming into Thursday's slate, Acuña finds himself tied with a trio of other major leaguers for the lead in MLB. The superstar Atlanta Braves outfielder is the lone leader in runs scored (24), thanks in large part not only to his affinity for the long ball but also his ability to zoom around the basepaths like a man on fire.
Shusterman's thoughts: "Fresh off yet another 480+ foot home run to tie for the MLB HR lead, the dynamic Braves outfielder continues to find ways to astound us. Helping his MVP case even further is the extent to which he has carried Atlanta's offense during their sluggish start this April. Fellow MVP candidate (and defending NL MVP himself) Freddie Freeman is starting to heat up, so Acuña will need to continue to markedly outshine his talented teammate. However, Acuña's shown no signs of slowing down. He's definitely still the favorite."
2. Fernando Tatis Jr. (+800)
How it's going: If you missed the San Diego Padres' series against the Los Angeles Dodgers this past weekend, that's a bummer. Fernando Tatis Jr. had an epic battle, both on and off the field, with the reigning World Series champs, hitting five home runs in the series. More importantly for San Diego, they won that series 3-1 to keep the pressure on in the surprisingly competitive NL West.
Verlander's thoughts: "Truly beginning to emerge as the face of Major League Baseball, Tatis had an unforgettable weekend series against the Dodgers. He hit FIVE homers in a three-game span, launching him up the MVP odds leaderboard."
3. Juan Soto (+900)
How it's going: We haven't seen Juan Soto in action for the Nats since Apr 19, but the oddsmakers are seemingly banking on his potential. The standout left fielder finished fifth in MVP voting in 2020. Once his shoulder heals up, the expectation is he'll hit the ground running and get back to his homer-hitting ways.
Mintz's thoughts: "Soto has not played in 10 days due to a shoulder strain that’s landed him on the IL, but he’s still third on this ranking because ... Duh, have you ever watched him? He told media that he’s spending his time off the field 'thinking and relaxing' which, hell yeah dude, you do you. The Childish Bambino should be back within the next week or so and maybe his R&R will catapult him even higher up this list once he’s returned to the baseballing."
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