MLB MVP Rankings: Harper chasing down Tatis in NL
Welcome to the fourth edition of theScore's 2021 Most Valuable Player rankings, where we pick the top players from each league.
5. Matt Olson, Athletics
Olson's career season has resulted in his first All-Star berth and another competitive campaign for the red-hot Athletics. The 27-year-old sits in the top five for homers, RBIs, OPS, and slugging percentage among qualified hitters in the Junior Circuit. Olson, who's a two-time Gold Glover, is also playing his usual stellar defense at first base.
4. Rafael Devers, Red Sox
The Red Sox are slumping, but that shouldn't mean overlooking how great of a season Devers is having. The third basemen's accrued the highest WAR for his position, thanks in large part to having the fourth-best slugging percentage in the AL. Devers is also among the league leaders in doubles, round-trippers, and RBIs. The 24-year-old All-Star's efforts have Boston in a wild-card spot after many predicted a down year.
3. Marcus Semien, Blue Jays
Where would the Blue Jays be without the All-Star second baseman? Vladimir Guerrero Jr. has received the majority of the spotlight, but Semien has been a pillar for a club charging up the wild-card standings. Only Vladdy has posted a higher WAR in the AL, and Semien also owns the best defensive rating at the keystone position in the Junior Circuit, according to FanGraphs. The 30-year-old is proving that his finish as an MVP finalist in 2019 wasn't a fluke, and he should be in line for a big payday come free agency.
2. Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays
Vlad has hit a bit of a wall after an otherworldly first half. The 22-year-old star is slashing .248/.339/.485 with seven homers in 27 games since the All-Star break. A lot of players would love those numbers, but the Dominican slugger has raised the bar significantly for himself. Guerrero still leads the AL in WAR, OPS, on-base percentage, and RBIs, and he's also second in baseball in homers and slugging percentage despite his recent struggles.
1. Shohei Ohtani, Angels
Although Ohtani's slumped a touch offensively since the Home Run Derby, he still leads the majors in homers, slugging, and extra-base hits while ranking fourth in the AL in fWAR (among position players). Ohtani's been so good as a hitter that it's easy to overlook his absurd pitching numbers. If the 27-year-old had enough innings to qualify, he'd rank fourth in the AL in ERA, third in strikeouts per nine innings, and sixth in WHIP. Ohtani's just in another stratosphere as a player.
5. Trea Turner, Dodgers
Turner is a legitimate five-tool threat in an age where more and more players seem to specialize their talents. The shortstop's among the Senior Circuit's leaders in stolen bases and ranks third in the NL batting title race. Turner plays exceptional defense and may wind up making looming free agent Corey Seager expendable in Los Angeles after the Dodgers acquired him at the deadline.
4. Buster Posey, Giants
Even if Posey falls short of earning MVP honors, he's a lock to win the NL Comeback Player award. After sitting out the 2020 season and seeing his numbers diminish across the board in prior campaigns, some may have wondered if the end was nearing for the future Hall of Fame catcher. Instead, he's having one of the best years of his career at age 34. Posey's posting career highs in OBP, SLG, and wRC+ as he's helped lead the surprising Giants to the top of the NL West.
3. Max Muncy, Dodgers
The Dodgers have three former MVPs on their roster, and Muncy could very well make it four this winter. Muncy's tied with Turner for third in fWAR and leads NL position players in bWAR. The Baylor product also ranks top-five in OBP, homers, wRC+, and walks while placing eighth in slugging. Muncy's versatility has been a boon for an injury-riddled L.A. squad as he's shuttled seamlessly between first and second base. Somehow, he's been the one carrying the star-studded Dodgers for much of this year.
2. Bryce Harper, Phillies
Don't look now, but Harper's rediscovered his old MVP form. The 2015 NL MVP ranks top-four in the Senior Circuit in each of OBP, slugging, OPS, and wRC+, and he's creeping up the WAR charts. The 28-year-old's not compiling homers or RBIs like in past years, but he's making up for that by drawing walks, stealing bases (swiping 12 while being caught once), and ranking top-10 in extra-base hits. Harper's propelled the Phillies offensively during their recent surge, and that's exactly what they paid him to do. The right-fielder is very deserving of this spot.
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
Tatis, who is currently on the injured list with another shoulder issue, has maintained his hold on the top spot in these rankings. The Silver Slugger Award winner still leads the NL in multiple categories, including homers, steals, slugging, and WAR. The injury might have doomed his hopes for a 40-40 campaign, but 30-30 is still very much on the table. Tatis will become even more valuable to the Padres if he successfully shifts to center field - a move that appears to be on the table due to his shoulder woes. Health may be the only thing stopping the 22-year-old from becoming one of the youngest MVPs in baseball history.
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