For much of the 2023 season, the AL and NL MVP favorites have been Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr. Both players have performed admirably throughout the '23 campaign. Even after suffering a recent injury, Ohtani is still expected to earn the award in the AL. The NL MVP award race is now competitive though, as Los Angeles Dodgers stars Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman have established themselves in the conversation.
Betts and Freeman have been on fire in recent action. It seems like neither player has cooled off since July. ESPN's Jeff Passan compared Freeman, Betts, and Acuna Jr's statistics, displaying how close the NL MVP award race truly is.
Mookie Betts: .310/.405/.605, 34 HR, 89 RBI, 105 R, 7.0 fWAR, 6.9 rWAR
Ronald Acuña Jr.: .339/.419/.568, 28 HR, 74 RBI, 113 R, 6.2 fWAR, 6.4 rWAR
Freddie Freeman: .336/.412/.576, 23 HR, 85 RBI, 104 R, 6.2 fWAR, 5.5 rWAR
Safe to say, Acuña won't run away with NL MVP anymore.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) August 25, 2023
It should be mentioned that Acuna Jr holds a major advantage in stolen bases, something that could potentially push him over the top. Still, Betts and Freeman are unquestionably in the picture. Even Acuna Jr's Atlanta Braves teammate Matt Olson, who isn't mentioned here, has made a case for himself.
In the end, this is still probably Acuna Jr's award to lose. But does either Freeman or Betts have a chance of stealing the award away in the end?
Will Mookie Betts or Freddie Freeman win the 2023 NL MVP?
If Betts and Freeman continue performing at elite levels then they will continue to surge in the MVP conversation. They can place a lot of pressure on Acuna Jr as well.
But who has a better chance between Betts and Freeman?
Freeman has been excellent in terms of hitting the baseball and getting on base, leading Betts in average and OBP. Betts, though, has offered more home run power. Freeman is arguably the best doubles hitter in the game but hasn't produced as much over-the-fence pop.
It's difficult to compare their RBI totals since Betts hits in front of Freeman. As a result, it isn't surprising to see Freeman leading Betts in RBI. On that same note, Betts leads Freeman in runs scored.
Both players have produced similar numbers for the most part. It would not be shocking to see either Mookie Betts or Freddie Freeman win the NL MVP award this season. First, though, they must surpass Ronald Acuna Jr which certainly won't be a simple task.