While most of the playoff spots in the National League seem to be more or less set, the NL MVP race in 2021 is still very much up for grabs. There is no clearcut favorite, especially since some of the top contenders seem to be struggling down the stretch and losing steam in their pursuit of the award.
At the same time, some of the previous MVP winners like Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich have had subpar seasons, taking them out of the running. In a way, it’s almost like nobody wants to win the NL MVP race in 2021.
National League MVP Contenders
Of course, all that means is that the race is still wide open with just a couple of weeks left in the season.
The race could easily come down to what player is at his best late in the season and what teams end up claiming the one or two playoff spots that are still left to be decided. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the serious National League MVP contenders heading down the stretch.
5. Juan Soto, Nationals
Odds are, Juan Soto won’t win MVP because the Nationals are terrible. However, it has to be considered because he might be the best pure hitter in baseball.
Coming into today, Nationals star Juan Soto was hitting .358/.527/.653 since the All-Star break. He's only the fourth player this century to put up that mammoth a stat line over 55 games. The others: Joey Votto in 2015, Barry Bonds in '01, '02, '03, '04 and Carlos Delgado in '00.
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) September 16, 2021
The 22-year-old has virtually no protection in Washington’s lineup, yet he remains productive with a .315 batting average and an OPS that’s approaching 1.000.
4. Max Muncy, Dodgers
Max Muncy is an interesting case study because the Dodgers have so many great players who have helped to make them one of the best teams in baseball yet again.
However, Muncy has arguably been the team’s most consistent hitter all season. Many Dodgers have had up and down seasons while Muncy has done his best to avoid prolonged slumps, which will surely keep him in the MVP conversation.
3. Freddie Freeman, Braves
The reigning MVP got off to a sluggish start but has come on strong in the second half and is making a play for back-to-back MVP honors.
Much like Freddie Freeman, the Braves have surged during the second half of the season, so Atlanta wrapping up another NL East title should help his case. Since the all-star break, Freeman is hitting better than .330 with an OPS around .950, giving him a strong case for MVP.
2. Fernando Tatis, Padres
As a team, the Padres are fading down the stretch, but there has been no let-up from Fernando Tatis. He’s on the cusp of hitting his 40th home run of the season with his OPS hanging around the 1.000 mark.
Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. had to be separated while yelling at one another in the dugout pic.twitter.com/y1x58iKeVB
— Jomboy Media (@JomboyMedia) September 19, 2021
Hurting Tatis is the fact that he’s had multiple stints on the IL with a shoulder injury and San Diego fading late in the season. But the fact that Tatis is playing through the shoulder injury and is still producing says a lot about him.
1. Bryce Harper, Phillies
Bryce Harper is one of the few previous MVP winners that’s putting together a strong campaign in 2021. Outside of his MVP year in 2015, Harper is having the best season of his career and might be having the best season of anyone in baseball.
He’s batting well over .300 and has an OPS around 1.050. But if the Phillies miss the playoffs, it could hurt his MVP chances.