Before we know it, the 2022 MLB season will (hopefully) be upon us.
Some of the biggest storylines in baseball each year revolve around the MVP races in each league, and the 2022 season figures to be no different in that regard.
It might seem like it’s too soon to make predictions for next year’s MVP award winners in the AL and NL, but there’s nothing wrong with having some fun.
Let’s make some picks.
American League MVP Pick: Shohei Ohtani — Los Angeles Angels
For years, Mike Trout was the obvious choice to win the AL MVP award when making preseason selections.
But with the emergence of Shohei Ohtani (and Trout’s injury issues in recent years), that’s not the case anymore.
As long as Ohtani stays healthy, he will likely be a perennial MVP candidate for all of his prime years.
He essentially packs two seasons’ worth of production (one season at the plate and one season on the mound) into one campaign.
How can a guy be more valuable than that?
At the plate, Ohtani smashed 46 home runs and posted a .965 OPS in the 2021 MLB season.
SHOHEI OHTANI BOMB 💣
He launched his 36th HR of the season 463 feet @BRWalkoff
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) July 28, 2021
On the mound, he maintained a 3.18 ERA over 23 starts.
Shohei Ohtani, 95mph Fastball (foul) and 82mph Slider (sword/K), Overlay. pic.twitter.com/TlWxREJKfD
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) July 27, 2021
He earned a massive 9.1 bWAR and won the AL MVP award in a runaway.
Look for him to potentially do the same thing again in 2022.
Of course, there are some other guys worth keeping an eye on, specifically Trout and Vladimir Guerrero Jr.
This race will likely be a very exciting one to watch unfold throughout the season.
National League MVP Pick: Ronald Acuna Jr. — Atlanta Braves
Ronald Acuna Jr. seemed to be on an MVP trajectory in the 2021 season before a torn ACL ended his year.
With any luck, he should be able to return to game action as soon as April of 2022.
Atlanta star Ronald Acuña Jr. has a torn ACL in his right knee and will miss the rest of the 2021 season. He’s expected to be out for 9-10 months.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) July 11, 2021
It seems likely that he’ll miss the start of the 2022 MLB season, but if he returns without missing an excessive number of games, he could easily find himself in the MVP conversation again assuming he plays like he did in 2021.
This pick is definitely dependent on some of those factors we just talked about, but if the dominoes fall the right way for Acuna, he could absolutely win this award.
Over 82 games in the 2021 season, he slashed .283/.394/.596 (155 OPS+) with 24 home runs and a 3.6 bWAR.
He was on pace for roughly 44 home runs and a bWAR of around 6.6 before his season ended.
RONALD ACUNA JR. FIRST PITCH HOMER 😤 @BRWalkoff
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) May 22, 2021
It’s obviously a shame that a potentially unforgettable season was taken away from him due to injury, but there’s no question that he’ll be back.
The sky is the limit for the youngster, and if he doesn’t win an MVP award in 2022, he’ll likely win one at some point in his career.
If Acuna’s return ends up taking longer than expected, keep an eye on those guys to dominate the NL MVP discussion.NEXT: 3 Star Hitters Who Could Be Traded After The MLB Lockout