A month ago, it seemed like both MVP awards were pretty much settled. But with less than two weeks to go into the regular season, there is a new favorite in the National League and, for the moment, the battle looks tighter in the AL — at least according to our latest poll on the matter.
As always, we asked a panel of MLB.com experts to rank the top three candidates in both leagues. There was a scale of 5-3-1 (five points for a first-place vote, three for a second-place vote, and one for a third-place vote).
Here are the results.
1) Shohei Ohtani, RHP / BD, Angels (56 first-place votes)
Ohtani continues to be the favorite in the eyes of our panel, but his lead has diminished. After receiving 90% of the first-place votes in August, the versatile Japanese gamer dropped to 78.9% this time around. He is no longer a major league home run leader and in the second half of the season, he is hitting just .219 / .347 / .423 after hitting .279 / .364 / .698 in the first.
Either way, Ohtani likely still has the prize secured. With 44 homers, 23 stolen bases and a 152 OPS +, plus a 3.28 ERA and 135 ERA + as a starting pitcher, Ohtani is the WAR leader by far at 8.0 (Baseball-Reference version).
2) Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays (15 first-place votes)
In a typical season, Guerrero would be the clear MVP. The Dominican flirts with the Triple Crown in batting and leads the Majors at 46 (tied), hits with 178, average with .320, scored with 119 and total bases reached with 342. In addition, he leads the American League with 1.047.
Unfortunately for Guerrero, what Ohtani did, unprecedented, is likely to give the multi-faceted Angels player the advantage.
3) Marcus Semien, 2B, Blue Jays
Signed to a one-year, $ 18 million deal by 2021, Semien successfully switched from short stops to second base. He is now only the fifth second baseman in major league history to hit 40 home runs in a season. With 81 extra-base hits, he is the leader of the majors.
Others who received votes: Salvador Pérez (KC), Matt Olson (OAK), Aaron Judge (NYY), José Ramírez (CLE), Cedric Mullins (BAL), Xander Bogaerts (BOS), Carlos Correa (HOU), José Abreu (CWS)
1) Bryce Harper, OF, Phillies (42 first-place votes)
At the end of July, the Phillies were two games under .500, but they have remained in contention for the postseason thanks in large part to Harper, who has hit .340 / .460 / .780 since early August. (1,240 OPS) with 17 doubles, 17 home runs, 42 RBIs and 37 walks in 46 games.
Now, Harper is tied for the major league slugging lead at .620 and leads the majors with a 1.047 OPS. The longtime favorite was Fernando Tatis Jr., but now his Padres have fallen in the postseason fight.
2) Fernando Tatis Jr., SS / OF, Padres (27 first place votes)
If the Padres don’t make the playoffs, it won’t be Tatis’ fault. Although his production has dropped somewhat, he still has eight homers with an .892 OPS in his last 30 games.
From the point of view of individual numbers, this fight is quite close:
Tatis: 39 HR, 92 CE, 94 R, 25 BR, .285 / .368 / .620, 6.4 bWAR Harper: 33 HR, 80 CE, 93 R, 13 BR, .311 / .427 / .620, bWAR of 5.4
3) Juan Soto, OF, Nationals (One vote to first place)
If you stopped seeing the Nationals after the trades of Max Scherzer, Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, Josh Harrison, Yan Gomes, Daniel Hudson, Brad Hand and Jon Lester, you may not have noticed what Soto did. Since the beginning of August, the Dominican has a .533 on-base percentage, hitting .348 with eight home runs and a 1,113 OPS in 45 games. The 22-year-old leads the majors with an on-base percentage (.461) for the second straight season and is second in OPS (.991) at the NL, behind Harper.
In addition, he is one point behind Turner in the battle for the batting title (.315), which would be the second in a row for Solo if he succeeds.
Others who received votes: Max Muncy (LAD), Trea Turner (LAD), Corbin Burnes (MIL; one vote for first place), Freddie Freeman (ATL), Joey Votto (CIN), Nick Castellanos (CIN), Zack Wheeler (PHI), Max Scherzer (LAD)