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Is Mookie Betts the clear favorite to win National League MVP?

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San Diego Padres defeated the Los Angeles Dodgers 6-1 during a baseball game at Dodger Stadium. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

The race for National League MVP is shaping up to be the closest it has been since the 2017 season, when two points ultimately decided the winner, Giancarlo Stanton. With just over two weeks left in the regular season, it is a sprint to the finish line for both Ronald Acuña Jr. of the Braves and Mookie Betts of the Dodgers.

Acuña has led the charge for an Atlanta team that has the most wins in baseball and the only team so far to clinch a playoff birth and division title. What Betts is doing this season, for brevity’s sake, is unprecedented.

That’s not to undermine Acuña’s historic season, who became the first player in baseball history to record 30 home runs and 60 stolen bases in a single season. On then other hand, Betts has been a more efficient and versatile defender, splitting nearly half of his starts at second base and shortstop. Offensively, Betts is tied for the most home runs at the leadoff spot, tied for the most RBI at the leadoff spot, and is one home run shy of tying the record for most leadoff home runs in a single season.

Statistically this season, Acuña has Betts beat in batting average, on-base percentage, runs scored, and hits. Betts is ahead of Acuña in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, OPS, wRC+, and rWAR on the season.

The answer to who is the clear-cut MVP is still undecided, however, Bill Plaschke of the los Angeles Times believes Betts is the heavy favorite to win the award, and the debate should be over:

“The clear MVP is the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts, not the Braves’ Ronald Acuña Jr., period, election over, I’m calling it, and anything different would make one wonder what the voters are watching. If they’re watching value, it’s Betts. If they’re watching versatility, it’s Betts. If they’re watching baseball, it’s Betts.”


During their stretch of postseason runs over the previous ten seasons, the Dodgers have relied on closers who now total at least 400 saves in Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel. Establishing himself as the new full-time closer this season, Evan Phillips will have to enter a whole new environment in the postseason, where he was previously used as a middle reliever or set-up man.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times writes about the expectations Phillips will face in the postseason, receiving advice from current and former teammates Daniel Hudson and Jansen, the former having sealed a World Series championship with the Washington Nationals in 2019.

James Outman was named as the most impressive rookie from the Dodgers this season by Rustin Dodd of The Athletic. In what has been a very streaky season, Outman sits with a .248/.357/.428 slash line with 19 home runs, 64 RBI, 15 stolen bases, a 118 wRC+ and a 3.9 fWAR.

The Dodgers last season won a franchise record 111 wins, yet came out of the postseason empty handed and disappointed. This year’s team might not have the same All-Star pedigree as last year’s, but just like every playoff hopeful team, there’s still a chance for them to play their best baseball when the lights shine brightest.

Mirjam Swanson of the Orange County Register writes about why the Dodgers shouldn’t be ruled out of title contention, despite all the flaws and injuries their roster has encountered:

“Baseball has so much more variance and a truly twisted sense of humor. Dave Stewart’s 1990 quote after his juggernaut Oakland Athletics team got swept by the Cincinnati Reds in the World Series still echoes in my head: ‘The best team doesn’t always win it. The team that plays the best wins it.’”

Longtime Dodgers minor league manager John Shoemaker will become the second recipient of the Tommy Lasorda I Bleed Dodger Blue Award, and will be celebrated before Friday’s game against San Francisco, per Cary Osborne of Dodger Insider.