5 best National League MVP candidates after Fernando Tatis Jr injury
With Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jacob deGrom both injured and projected to miss much of the remainder of the MLB season, the National League MVP race is wide open. It is possible that Tatis returns before the end of the season.
If he gets over the 100 game mark he will most likely take home the MVP.
However, the likelihood of him reaching the 100 game mark looks less and less likely each day as his shoulder injury continues to get worse. With that in mind, lets look at the best MVP candidates for National League in order from most likely to least likely.
National League MVP options:
Max Muncy, First Baseman, Los Angeles Dodgers
Max Muncy has been one of the best players in the National League this season and has easily been the best at his position. Muncy has an impressive slash line of .272/.407/.545 for an OPS of .952. His insane .407 on base percentage can be attributed to his great walk rate of 17% with 65 walks so far on the season. Muncy has been great so far this season for the Dodgers and has not only performed well with the bat but also with the glove.
According to fangraphs UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating where average is 0.0) Muncy has graded as a net positive defender at both first base and second base. While Muncy may not be the flashy pick for MVP, he has undoubtedly been one of the best position players this season.
Trea Turner, Shortstop/Second Baseman, Los Angeles Dodgers
While Turner has yet to make his Dodgers debut, the former Washington Nationals shortstop has already put himself into solid contention for the National League MVP with a fantastic season. Turner has a great slash line of .322/.369/.521 for an OPS of .890 and has a 2.8 UZR, which puts him as a positive both with the bat and the glove. Turner is currently injured, but has already played in 96 games this season and will make his debut with the Dodgers very soon. While no player has ever won MVP after being traded at the trade deadline, if Turner can keep up his stellar play for the Dodgers he will definitely have a strong case.
Juan Soto, Right Fielder, Washington Nationals
Juan Soto started off the season slowly (for his standards) but still put up good enough numbers to get an All-Star nod. However, after a great showing at the home run derby on All-Star weekend, Soto has come out on fire. He now has a slash line of .298/.427/.500 for an OPS of .927. Soto leads the National League in on base percentage (.427) and in walks (78).
While all of his hitting stats are impressive, they are not out of the ordinary for Soto, who might be the best hitter in baseball and worthy of MVP status. One of the most impressive things that Soto has done this season is he has become a net positive defender. After playing left field for the first three years of his career, Nationals manager Dave Martinez moved Soto to right field and for the first time in his career, Soto is a positive defender with a 2.1 UZR up to this point in the season.
With Soto having his normal, but still incredible hitting stats and being a solid defender in right field he could very easily end up as the National League MVP.
Bryce Harper, Right Fielder, Philadelphia Phillies
Bryce Harper has very quietly put up some MVP hitting numbers in 2021. Harper is having his best season since 2017 and by far and away his best season in a Phillies jersey. With a slash line of .305/.417/.563 for an OPS of .979, Harpers hitting numbers may be the best of the list so far as the 28 year old has had an explosive second half. Harper was somehow not chosen to be a National League All-Star this season and he must have taken that to heart as he has had a very good second half.
The only thing keeping Harper back from the rest of the MVP candidates on this list is that Harper has been a negative defender this season, with a -.05 UZR on the season. Harpers struggles in the field need to be improved upon in order to put himself above the rest of the competition, until then Harper will have had a solid season.
Manny Machado, Third Baseman, San Diego Padres
Manny Machado often gets overshadowed by Fernando Tatis Jr. but he is still a perennial MVP candidate and has proven to be one of the best third baseman in the MLB. Machado has a slash line of .287/.362/.520 for an OPS of .883, which, while it is the worst of the five on this list, is top tier production. What separates Machado from everyone else is his great performance with the glove.
So far this season Machado has a 4.0 UZR and is projected to finish the season with 8.7. That is elite level defense to go along with great production from the Padres third baseman. If he can get hot and have a good end to his season offensively then he could very well find himself in the midst of a close National League MVP race.