With the 2023 MVPs for both leagues being announced on Thursday, the National League race has three candidates who put together stellar and record-breaking seasons.
The favorite in the National League, Ronald Acuña Jr., became the first player in baseball history to connect 40 home runs and steal 70 bases in the same season, all for a Braves team that led all of baseball with 104 wins.
The other two candidates are the dynamic duo at the top of the Dodgers’ batting order. Mookie Betts had his best season as a Dodger, connecting for a career high 39 home runs, setting the single season record for most RBI by a leadoff hitter, and thriving defensively at three different positions. Freddie Freeman became the only first baseman in baseball history to hit 25 home runs, 55 doubles, and steal 20 bases, while setting the new Dodgers’ franchise record for the most doubles in a single season.
Juan Toribio of MLB.com makes separate arguments for Betts and Freeman to secure the National League MVP:
“The ability for Betts to move around and play a couple of positions at a high level defensively allowed the Dodgers to field their best team. That definitely should give you some added consideration for the award. If you’re more into the numbers, Betts had that, too. He finished with a career-high 39 homers.”
“Freeman set a new Dodgers record with 59 doubles this season and fell one shy of becoming the first player to hit 60 in a single season since the 1930s. To go along with that, Freeman also hit 29 homers, finishing with a .331 batting average. Oh, and he recorded 211 hits, eclipsing the 200-hit mark for the first time in his career.”
In free agency news, the bidding war for prized free agent Shohei Ohtani has seen a few new contenders enter the race. Jeff Passan of ESPN reports that both the Boston Red Sox and the World Series champion Texas Rangers are in the mix to sign the soon-to-be two time American League MVP:
“The Dodgers, Rangers and Boston Red Sox all are expected to be in the Ohtani sweepstakes, according to sources... And though the industry’s overwhelming expectation is that he winds up with the Dodgers, that line of thinking is perhaps presumptive.”
There are a few Japanese starting pitchers that are looking to ink a deal with a major league club, which include Shōta Imanaga and standout Yoshinobu Yamamoto, who was ranked as the best free agent starter by MLB.com. Zachary D. Rymer lists the ten best fits for Yamamoto, naming the Dodgers as the second most likely team to sign him.