Juan Soto. Bryce Harper. Fernando Tatis Jr. As the season winds down, all three are vying for NL MVP honors. Who will bring it home?
To say this season has been a disappointment is an understatement. Washington entered with immense expectations and from the start, the team fell flat on its face. The once-vaunted starting rotation was a shell of its former self, with only Max Scherzer performing at a high level. Stephen Strasburg only made five starts before undergoing season-ending surgery while Patrick Corbin is last among all qualified starters in ERA (5.82).
With the team underperforming and full of injuries, the front office decided to blow up the roster, shipping out eight key players for 12 prospects. Since the trade deadline ended, the Nationals have become one of the worst teams in the league, but that hasn’t stopped Juan Soto from putting on a show. In fact, since the All-Star break ended, Soto has been the hottest hitter in baseball slashing .360/.532/.66 2. On the season, he is hitting .318, with 29 homers, 94 RBIs, and an OPS of 1.010.
All season long, the NL MVP race has been between Bryce Harper and Fernando Tatis Jr, with Max Muncy, Freddie Freeman, and Trea Turner all close behind. But Soto’s recent Barry Bonds impression has allowed the youngster to thrust himself into the conversation.
Less than a week remains in the season, with October third being the last day of the regular season. For the Nats, they have a day off before finishing the season against the Red Sox in a three-game series. Currently, the Red Sox have a half-game lead for the second Wild Card spot and are only one game back of the Yankees. The AL Wild Card race is coming down to the wire and Boston cannot afford to drop a game.
Harper and the Phillies have the easiest remaining schedule with one game remaining against the Braves before ending against the Marlins. Philly is on the verge of elimination, but if they can overtake Atlanta, the voters may lean more toward Harper. Fair or not, the media tends to vote for a player who made the playoffs.
Freddie Freeman is currently facing off against Harper’s Phillies before finishing the season against the struggling Mets. At this point, it is very unlikely Freeman will be able to win a second straight NL MVP award, trailing the pack in most major categories.
The Padres have the toughest remaining schedule, with one game left against the Dodgers before ending with the Giants. Tatis Jr. has cooled off after his tremendous first half. Despite leading Harper in bWAR, homers, and RBIs, Harper leads him in OBP, SLG, wRC+, and OPS. Now that the Padres are eliminated from the playoffs, Harper has the overall edge.
Muncy and Turner are stealing votes from each other and neither has been able to stand above the rest of the group. LA is facing off against Tatis’s Padres and then they finish the season against the Milwaukee Brewers.