As expected, Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. won the 2023 National League MVP award, in results announced by the Baseball Writers Association of America on Thursday afternoon. Mookie Betts finished second in the vote and Freddie Freeman was third, giving the Dodgers two players in the top three in MVP voting for the first time since 1974.
Acuña received all 30 first-place votes, rewarded for a season in which he hit .337/.416/.596 with 41 home runs and a league-leading 73 stolen bases. Not only was he the first member of the 40-70 club in major league history, Acuña was the first player with 40 home runs to steal even 50 bases. Yes, rule changes led to an increase in steals in 2023, but Acuña still had 19 more stolen bases than anyone else in the National League.
Acuña led the NL in OPS (1.012), on-base percentage, runs scored (149), hits (217), total bases (383), steals, wRC+ (170), and OPS+ (168). He was tied with Betts atop the league with 8.3 fWAR.
Betts got all 30 second-place votes.
Freeman got 17 third-place votes and 13 fourth-place votes for a total of 227 points. Matt Olson, who took over for Freeman at first base in Atlanta, got 13 third-place votes and 17 fourth-place votes.
Those four players accounted for all of the top four votes on each ballot.
Betts hit .307/.408/.579 with a 167 wRC+, a career-high 39 home runs, 40 doubles, 126 runs scored, and a major-league-record 107 RBI out of the leadoff spot. He led the NL in bWAR (8.3), fWAR (8.3, tied with Acuña), and provided above-average defense in right field and at second base, getting his first extended time in the infield in his major league career.
Freeman led the majors and obliterated a Dodgers record with 59 doubles, tying the most in a season over the last 87 years. He hit .331/.410/.567 with a 163 wRC+, 29 home runs, 23 stolen bases, 107 RBI, a Los Angeles Dodgers record 131 runs scored, and a major-league-best 90 extra-base hits.
Betts (8.3 rWAR) and Freeman (6.5 rWAR) are the first pair of LA Dodgers position-player teammates with at least 6 WAR at Baseball Reference.
This is the third time finishing in second place in MVP voting for Betts, who won American League MVP honors in 2018 with the Red Sox. He finished second to Mike Trout in 2016 in the AL, then finished second to Freeman in the NL in 2020. Betts was fifth in NL MVP voting last year.
Freeman now has five top-five finishes in MVP voting. In addition to winning the award in 2020 with Atlanta, he finished third this year, fourth in 2018 and 2022, and fifth in 2013.
No other Dodgers received any down-ballot MVP votes.
Top of the 2023 National League MVP vote
|Ronald Acuña Jr.||RF||Braves||30||0||0||0||420|
MVP ballots are 10 players deep, with a total of 30 voters in each league — two representing each city.
Fourteen points are awarded for each first-place vote, with nine points for second-place votes, eight points for third-place votes, seven points for fourth-place votes, six points for fifth-place votes, five points for sixth-place votes, four points for seventh-place votes, three points for eighth-place votes, two points for ninth-place votes, and one point for 10th-place votes.