We have already consumed two months of the 2021 MLB season, and some MVP candidates are starting to emerge in both leagues.
These three players have been so good that they should be considered strong candidates to win the National League MVP Award this year.
3. Ronald Acuña Jr., Atlanta Braves
The Atlanta Braves aren’t in first place of their division, and they aren’t even playing .500 ball, as their record stands at 25-26.
But there is a reason they are still only 3.5 games behind the New York Mets, and his name is Ronald Acuña Jr.
The star outfielder is the league’s co-leader in home runs with 16, and he has done it without sacrificing contact (.283 batting average) or on-base ability (.380 OBP).
Acuña has the potential to give the Braves consecutive MVP winners, as Freddie Freeman took home the trophy last year.
Acuña is seventh in MLB in Wins Above Replacement, or WAR, with 2.4.
He is the whole package, and has shown he can win games with his obvious power, his glove, and also his legs.
He is a human highlight reel: there are several videos of him beating out routine grounders to short, putting record times from home to first.
He wants to be a 40-40 guy (40 home runs and 40 stolen bases), or at least repeat as a 30-30.
So far, with 16 round-trippers and six steals, he is well on his way.
2. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
Jacob deGrom missed a couple of turns with tightness in his right side, but he is back making hitters look foolish and throwing 102 mile-per-hour gas.
Jacob deGrom, 85mph Curveball and 100mph Fastball, Overlay. pic.twitter.com/gEJSjolhwP
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) June 1, 2021
Absolutely nobody in the league is better at run prevention than deGrom.
With a 0.71 ERA, a 1.51 expected ERA, a 1.08 Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), and a 1.49 expected FIP, just about every statistical measure thinks deGrom is just unfair.
If you need more proof that he is truly one of a kind, he has 14.47 strikeouts per nine innings, compared to just 1.24 walks.
DeGrom has two Cy Young awards, won in 2018 and 2019.
Yet there is a strong argument to be made that he deserved to be the MVP of the NL back in 2018.
And just as he deserved the award back then, he is making a case to win it this time through May.
The Mets will go as far as deGrom takes them.
1. Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Fernando Tatis Jr. is 12th in MLB in WAR, with 2.2, an impressive feat considering he had to miss a couple weeks with a shoulder injury.
While most of the leaders in the category have more than 50 games played, the San Diego Padres shortstop has 38.
He is unbelievable: in just 38 games, he has 16 home runs (league leader with Acuña), 12 stolen bases, and +.700 slugging percentage.
Tiene todos los recursos: ¡FERNANDO TATIS JR.! 😤 pic.twitter.com/JNB30mAKdF
— LasMayores (@LasMayores) May 31, 2021
His slash line is .299/.383/.708, and it shows just how much he has matured as a hitter.
He can hit for average by virtue of his improved strikeout rate and incredible ability to hit the ball hard.
He has unbelievable power for someone of his body type, and he has speed to burn.
Tatis has carried the Padres, and they have the best record in the NL West division.
It’s very hard for him to keep slugging .700, but he looks like a legitimate MVP candidate, capable of challenging a 40-40 season rather effortlessly.