MVP Watch – Final Month

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With the one month left in the season, it is time to look at the 2021 MLB MVP ladder in both the American League and the National League. If the season ended today, who would snag the league MVPs?

Compared to the last installment in this series, this is the most concrete as there are clear favorites in each league. Odds will be provided for each player.

Stats are accurate as of August 31.

2021 MLB MVP: American League

No.1: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (-3000)

This is perhaps the easiest decision of all time as Shohei Ohtani is having a historically dominant season both at the plate and on the mound. He leads Major League Baseball in bWAR by 1.4, and he is in the top-10 in both oWAR and pitching WAR this season. Ohtani sports a 3.00 ERA on the mound, good for a 154 ERA+. In the batter’s box, Ohtani leads baseball with 42 home runs, and his .626 slugging percentage leads the American League. Ohtani could finish the season as a 10-WAR player, essentially locking up the MVP.

No.2: Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (+1500)

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. would be a runaway MVP in most seasons, but this season he will settle for a distant second-place finish. Guerrero leads baseball in runs scored and total bases. He leads the American League in hits, on-base percentage, OPS, and OPS+. While it is unlikely that he wins the hitting triple crown, he is currently second in batting average and home runs while being third in RBI. If he has a historically dominant September and steals the home run crown from Ohtani, he could swing some votes, but it seems unlikely.

No.3: Rafael Devers, Boston Red Sox (+6600)

Rafael Devers leads the pack of +6600 candidates. He is fourth in AL slugging, sixth in OPS, and fifth in total bases. While his Red Sox have cooled off since the All-Star Break, Devers has continued to mash baseballs. He has tacked on 10 home runs since the break, including a pair against Cleveland on August 29. While he will not win the MVP, he is the front-runner for the Silver Slugger award at third base in the AL. Devers previously finished 12th in 2019 AL MVP voting, and he is likely to exceed that in 2021.

No.4: Marcus Semien, Toronto Blue Jays (+6600)

The first-time All-Star is not quite having the same dominant season that he had in 2019, but he is not far off. Marcus Semien‘s next home run will tie his career-high. As of writing, he has a career-best .524 slugging percentage. He is second among position players in WAR in the AL, and he is fourth in both oWAR and dWAR. He is third in runs and total bases while being second in doubles. Perhaps his most impressive mark is being fourth in home runs as a second baseman. Like Devers, expect Semien to pick up his first Silver Slugger.

No.5: Matt Olson, Oakland Athletics (+6600)

Matt Olson will not be taking home the Silver Slugger at first base because of Guerrero. However, he could be in play for his third Gold Glove in four seasons. With a month to play, Olson is on pace for career highs in all three triple slash line stats. He is 10th in the AL in total WAR, placing eighth in oWAR. He is fifth in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage. With his excellence in both categories, he lands third in both OPS and OPS+. Olson has one career MVP finish, coming in 21st in 2019.

2021 MLB MVP: National League

No.1: Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres (-275)

Despite missing time throughout the season, Fernando Tatis Jr. is still the odds-on favorite to win the NL MVP. He leads the NL in home runs, posting a blistering 10.3 at-bats per home run. Even with the tremendous seasons of Ohtani and Guerrero, Tatis paces MLB in both slugging percentage and OPS+. Among Padres to play 100 games in a season, Tatis currently ranks first in both OPS+ and slugging percentage. He has a strong chance of becoming the first Padre since Ken Caminiti to lift the NL MVP.

No.2: Max Muncy, Los Angeles Dodgers (+850)

The now two-time All-Star is second among position players in WAR in the National League. Max Muncy is fourth in on-base percentage and sixth in slugging. He is currently second in home runs behind Tatis while ranking fourth in OPS+. Muncy has been an excellent fielder, and he could be in line to double up with a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger. Muncy is a slight stretch to win the NL MVP itself, but if Tatis is to miss any more time, expect Muncy to slide in at the end. So far, Muncy has never finished higher than 15th in MVP voting (both 2018 and 2019).

No.3: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (+900)

The reigning NL MVP is not going down without a fight in 2021. After a pedestrian first month of the season, Freddie Freeman has been scorching hot since May 7. Freeman is ninth in batting average and fifth in on-base percentage. He leads the NL in runs, and he is third in both hits and total bases. Freeman has mashed 28 home runs, placing him fifth in the NL. He also ranks fourth in walks and second in runs created. While he is not quite where he was in 2020, Freeman is a historically dominant hitter in September. He owns two September Player of the Month Awards, and a third could net him a second MVP.

No.4: Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies (+1200)

Bryce Harper, not Tatis or Guerrero, leads baseball with an OPS of 1.008. Harper’s OPS+ of 175 is the second-highest of his career, only trailing his 2015 MVP season. Harper ranks second in oWAR among National Leaguers, and he is a threat to win the slash line triple crown. As of writing, he is sixth in batting average and second in both on-base percentage and slugging percentage. He is sixth in doubles and ninth in home runs. Harper leads the NL in runs created, adjusted batting runs, and adjusted batting wins. The odds portray Harper as an underdog of sorts, but if he delivers an NL East crown for the Phillies, Harper could steal the MVP from Tatis.

No.5: Joey Votto/Trea Turner, Cincinnati Reds/Los Angeles Dodgers (+2000)

Is this cheating? Maybe.

Joey Votto has simply started tattooing baseballs. He has his most home runs in a season since 2017 and the highest home-run rate of his career. He ranks fifth in slugging percentage, his highest since 2015. Votto is also back among the league leaders in OPS, currently ranking eighth. For his career, Votto only has one top-five finish in home runs, but he is on pace for his second in 2021.

Trea Turner has had a slightly different approach from Votto. Turner leads MLB with a .322 batting average helped by his league-leading 153 hits. When he gets on base, Turner is elite on the base paths per usual. He has an NL-leading 26 swipes. Turner ranks eighth in the NL in WAR, fourth among position players. He is fourth in total bases and sixth in OPS+. Since being traded to the Dodgers, Turner has slashed .322/.362/.483.

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Ryan Potts is an avid football and baseball fan. He covers the NFL and Major League Baseball, focusing on the Baltimore Ravens and Atlanta Braves.