NL MVP race is still wide open, and most exciting



With three-quarters of the MLB season behind us, some of the 2018 awards are already locked up.

While Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez have put up MVP-worthy seasons, it’s tough to imagine either of them beating Mookie Betts for the AL MVP. As of August 16th, Betts is hitting .352/.440/.668 with 140 hit, 99 runs, 64 RBI.

As for Rookie of the Year, Ronald Acuna Jr. looked as if he can give Juan Soto a fight, and still could, but we’re still waiting for results of a CT scan after being hit by a pitch on Wednesday night. The Yankees Gleyber Torres is leading the AL ROY race. Chris Sale and Max Scherzer are Cy Young favorites for the AL and NL respectively (though Jacob deGrom has made a case for himself for the NL Cy Young in recent weeks).

But what about the NL MVP? That race is far from over, and it’s only heating up as Matt Carpenter heats up. With just about 40 games left in the season, these guys could be battling until the very end.

Matt Carpenter

The career-long Cardinals third baseman may have had a slow start to the season, batting .263 with 19 home runs before the All Star break. But the 32-year-old has stepped it up after the break, as St. Louis continues its playoff push (currently four games back of the Chicago Cubs in the NL Central and a game out of a Wild Card spot). Since the break, Carpenter has a slash line of .314/.441/.775 with 14 home runs.

He’s currently leading the National League in several categories, including home runs (33), slugging percentage (.589), and weighted runs created (wRC+). He’s also tied for first in wins above replacement (WAR) with the next guy on this list.

According to MLB.com, he’s on pace for 40 home runs this season, the most in his eight-year career by far (the most he’s hit until now is 28, which he’s already passed by five home runs).

Not bad for a guy who hit .145 in April.

Freddie Freeman

Freeman is batting .323 as of August 16, which may not seem as impressive after seeing Mookie Betts’ batting average, but it’s good enough to lead the NL as the Braves try to hold on to their lead in the NL East. He’s second in hits this season, trailing Nick Markakis by a single hit, and is on pace to beat his own personal best (he tallied his most hits in 2016, with 178). As mentioned above, he is tied with Carpenter in WAR.

Freeman was already the MVP frontrunner at the halfway point, while Carpenter was getting back to form. Atlanta’s success and possible postseason run could put Freeman a step ahead of Carpenter.

Max Scherzer

It’s rare for a pitcher to win the MVP award, but not unheard of. Scherzer is pretty much a lock for the NL Cy Young, but could he win both titles this season?

Scherzer is leading the NL in wins, with 15 compared to five losses on the season. He has the second best ERA, 2.19 (Jacob deGrom leads the league with 1.81) and has struck out 227 batters. No other NL pitcher is even close. The Mets’ deGrom, who comes in second, has struck out a total of 195 batters so far this season, 32 less than Scherzer. He leads the National League in several other categories, including innings pitched (168.2).

The 2018 Cy Young award would be the fourth of his career, but it would be his first MVP. Though the fact that the Nationals are nine games behind the Braves and seven back from the Phillies in the NL East can spoil the party.

Other strong candidates for the NL MVP are Chicago Cubs Javy Baez, Arizona’s Paul Goldschmidt, and Colorado’s Nolan Arenado.