The NL MVP race 2022 figures to be one for the ages. The key stretch of the season is still ahead of us, so anything can happen. But barring a major injury, it seems like this will be a photo finish and there will be no clear favorite until the very last day of the MLB regular season.
NL MVP race 2022
As we’ve seen from previous MLB award winners, you don’t have to be a part of a winning team to get this honor. If not, then Mike Trout would’ve never ended up on top of the voting. That’s one of the particularities of this tournament when compared to the NBA or the MLB.
|Odds To Win 2022 NL MVP
All odds taken August 22 at FanDuel Sportsbook
But, for the first time in years, we have a handful of legit NL MVP favorites that have helped their teams win while also posting incredible numbers. With that in mind, let’s look at the five superstars currently leading the NL MVP Race 2022.
5. Manny Machado
Following the Juan Soto trade, the San Diego Padres headlined all the lists of trade deadline winners and losers. But in a season where everybody’s talked about Fernando Tatis Jr. and now Juan Soto, Manny Machado should get plenty of praise for the way he’s been hitting the ball since day one.
He was arguably the hottest hitter of the first third of the season, and he continues to put the Padres’ offense on his shoulders. He’s currently hitting .304 with 21 homers, 73 RBIs, and an OPS+ of 159, which is the second-highest of his career.
The Padres are expected to go all the way this season, and Machado is finally proving that he’s mature enough to be the leader they so desperately need. He’s having a career year and having Soto around will only put him in a better position to do more damage.
4. Nolan Arenado
Nolan Arenado outgrew the Colorado Rockies, so it’s wonderful to finally see him thrive with a winning organization. Needless to say, he’s held his end of the bargain as well, playing like an MVP candidate since the start of the season.
The superstar third baseman continues to be one of the best, most electrifying defenders in all of baseball and a walking highlight reel. His offense has also uplifted a St. Louis Cardinals line up that’s been stagnant without him or Paul Goldschmidt from time to time.
Arenado is slashing .296/.363/.556 with 25 homers, 2 stolen bases, and 73 RBIs, and has piled up 225 total bases across 452 plate appearances this season. The Cardinals may not be the strongest NL contender this year, but they’re the last team you want to face come postseason time.
3. Freddie Freeman
For years, Freddie Freeman has been used to sitting near the top of the NL MVP candidates, so it’s not a surprise to see him again here in his first year with the Los Angeles Dodgers. Despite his age, he’s still far from done and is proving that he can be a leader wherever he goes.
Freeman has been the best player on the best team in baseball and it hasn’t even been close. That’s a lot to say from a team that also features Mookie Betts and Trea Turner and only puts in context just how good Freeman has been in his first year back home.
Thus far, the 12-year veteran has had one of his best seasons yet. He’s hitting .320 with a league-leading 39 doubles, 16 home runs, 73 RBIs, ten swiped bags, and a .922 OPS. He’s gotten MVP votes in nine of the past ten seasons and could win the award for the second time in his career.
2. Austin Riley
Austin Riley came out of the blue and has become one of the top NL MVP candidates over the past couple of months. He’s been a synonym for consistency, even tying legend Hank Aaron as the fastest player to record 30 doubles and 30 home runs in a season. If that’s not an MVP-caliber campaign, then I don’t know what it is.
Riley is one of the league’s rising stars and is only getting better by the day. He’s hitting .289 with 30 dingers, 74 runs batted in, a couple of stolen bases, and an OBP of .354. He’s been the biggest catalyst behind the Atlanta Braves recent surge.
Riley has hit 18 of his 30 homers since June 1 and is getting hot when it matters the most. Also, he’s one of the best defensive players in the league, boasting a .965 fielding percentage, and the best part is that he’s yet to reach his prime, as he’s about to turn 26 years old.
1. Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt continues to turn back the clock and prove that he’s one of the best players of his generation. He’s been the best and most consistent player in all of baseball by a long stretch this season and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down after the All-Star break.
Goldschmidt is an outstanding defender and one of the most versatile offensive players in the league. He’s going back to his Arizona Diamondbacks form and has been one of the biggest reasons why the Cardinals are still in contention.
Throughout his age 34 season, the seven-time All-Star might well win the first MVP award of his career. He’s hitting .328 with 29 home runs, and 92 RBIs. Goldschmidt is also leading the league in SLG (.168), OPS (1.030), and OPS+ (192) with 252 total bases, getting 55 walks and striking out just 98 times in 473 plate appearances.
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