The 118th World Series will be full of stars. The Astros and Phillies will kick off the action with Game 1 on Friday at 8 pm ET on FOX. But who will be the main player to step up to lead his team to the title?
Someone will and end up being recognized as the Most Valuable Player of the series.
We asked several of our MLB.com writers to pick their favorite candidates to win the award. Here, the results.
1. Yordan Alvarez, LF, Astros
The Cuban has already shown what he can do in the postseason, with the dramatic walk-off home run he hit in Game 1 of the American League Division Series and another home run to put Houston ahead in Game 2. He hit just .286. in the AL Championship Series, but he had two hits, including a double in Game 4, in what may have been a preview of what he will do in the World Series.
We’ve already seen him carry the team in one series, like when he hit .522 with a 1.408 OPS in all six ALCS games last year, earning him the MVP of that series. Now, he has a chance to become just the 14th player to win the award in the SC and the World Series in his career.
2. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
Could what the Venezuelan saw in the last two ALCS games have been a sign? After going scoreless in his first 25 postseason at-bats, Altuve doubled in Game 3 and then reached base three times in Game 4. Take into account the second baseman’s record in the postseason.
Prior to the start of these playoffs, the Venezuelan was hitting .286/.361/.547 in the playoffs, with the second most home runs (23) in postseason history. Also, he is coming off a season in which he posted a wRC+ of 164; the best of his career.
3. Justin Verlander, RHP, Astros
Verlander has done it all in his career, winning Rookie of the Year, two Cy Youngs (and maybe close to a third) and an MVP. Additionally, he was the 2017 ALCS MVP, leading the Astros to the World Series title. MVP would be the final piece in his Hall of Fame history. A couple of wins over the Phillies, and Verlander could have another trophy in his career.
4. Bryce Harper, DH, Phillies
It has been a defining moment for “Baseball’s Chosen One.” Harper has lived up to the hype that elevated him as one of the top prospects in the sport at 16 years old. Harper is the star of the Phillies and has displayed his magic in these playoffs. He was unstoppable in the SDLN and in the SCLN. Now, the World Series is what he lacks.
5. Kyle Schwarber, OF, Phillies
Honestly, I think the Astros will win the World Series. But already the other candidates were selected. So I’m going with Schwarber, who can obviously change the fate of any game with a single swing. He went 6-for-15 with three homers in the NLCS. His expected slugging percentage this postseason (.521) is even higher than his actual average (.457), which means he could increase his production even more.
6. Alex Bregman, 3B, Astros
Bregman has had good times in past World Series, including five home runs and a walk-off hit. But he still hasn’t put the final stamp on himself in the Fall Classic (he’s hitting .188/.247/.400, including going 2-for-21 last year against Atlanta). That can change now. After a slow start in 2022, Bregman has retaken his stellar level, posting a .902 OPS with 17 home runs in his last 94 regular-season games. The 28-year-old third baseman looks better than ever now.
7. Jeremy Pena, SS, Astros
If there’s one thing we’ve learned during this postseason, it’s that the highest stage doesn’t suit the Dominican, who has hit several of the most important hits of the postseason with the Astros. In the 18-inning marathon against the Mariners in Game 3 of the ALDS, it was the 25-year-old rookie who sealed the game with a solo home run. Then he hit a three-run homer in Game 4 at Yankee Stadium to sink the Yankees in the ALCS. The championship series MVP hit .353 with two home runs and great defense.
8. Zach Wheeler, RHP, Phillies
The Phillies got to this point by being the hottest team at the moment. At the same time, Wheeler is the best pitcher today. Through three tough series, every Phillies pitcher has failed at least once except Wheeler, who has completed at least six innings in his four starts, posting a 1.78 ERA and 0.51 WHIP.
9. Rhys Hoskins, 1B, Phillies
Even if Harper and Schwarber don’t shine in the World Series, the Phillies will still have plenty of gunpowder in the lineup. How Hoskins looks against the Astros could be vital to his team’s aspirations. The 29-year-old slugger was the one to step up in Harper’s absence this summer. He has already hit five home runs this postseason, including four against the Padres.
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