American League MVP
John Cordes/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels • Corey Seager, Texas Rangers • Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
Experts’ pick: Ohtani (13 votes) (unanimous choice)
What to know: We have written similar things about Ohtani for years now, but we’ve never seen anyone do what he did in 2023. At the plate, he led the AL with 44 homers, a .412 on-base percentage and a .654 slugging percentage. On the mound, he went 10-5 with 167 strikeouts and a 3.14 ERA. He earned 10.0 WAR at Baseball-Reference.com, 2.6 more than any other player in the AL, and 9.0 at Fangraphs, 2.7 more than anyone else. There is just no good argument for another player.
Still, even as Ohtani is a shoo-in for his second MVP trophy, the early end to his season and the Angels’ disappointing 73-89 record make this possibly anticlimactic to some voters. He threw his last pitch on Aug. 23 and made his last trip to the plate on Sept. 3. Not only did this quash Othani’s quest to post the best season in history, but it might have actually swayed some voters to turn to Seager, who missed a chunk of regular-season time as well. That might be especially true if the playoffs were considered, as Seager once again transmogrified into Playoff Seager when the games mattered most.
— Bradford Doolittle
Shohei Ohtani Tracker: Where will MLB’s top free agent land?
Is Corey Seager the new Mr. October?
National League MVP
Kevin D. Liles/Atlanta Braves/Getty Images
Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves • Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers • Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers
Experts’ picks: Acuna (12 votes), Betts (1)
What to know: The results from our experts’ picks suggest this will be a runaway victory for Acuna — and it probably will be — but that belies how close of a race this was between Acuna and Betts. In fWAR, they ended up tied at 8.3. In bWAR, Betts holds the smallest of edges at 8.3 to 8.2. In most seasons, that would lead to a hotly contested MVP debate, but Acuna had the flashier numbers: 41 home runs and 73 steals, becoming not just the fifth member of the 40/40 club, but blowing past that group to create the 40/70 club.
Besides leading the majors in stolen bases, Acuna led the NL in runs, hits, OBP, OPS and total bases. Despite those gaudy numbers and despite Acuna being the favorite for most of the season, Betts had arguably pulled ahead entering the final month, after hitting .455 with 11 home runs and 30 RBIs in August. Indeed, via FanGraphs, Betts led in WAR, 7.7 to 6.7, at the end of August. Betts, however, struggled in September, hitting .244 with one home run, while Acuna finished with a burst, hitting .340 with 11 home runs. He should join Freeman (2020), Chipper Jones (1999) and Dale Murphy (1982-83) as Braves players to win MVP honors since the franchise moved to Atlanta.
— David Schoenfield
Inside Ronald Acuna Jr.’s return to MVP form
How Mookie Betts became a Dodgers … infielder
American League Cy Young
American League Manager of the Year
Greg Fiume/Getty Images
• Bruce Bochy, Texas Rangers
• Kevin Cash, Tampa Bay Rays • Brandon Hyde, Baltimore Orioles
Experts’ picks: Hyde (9 votes), Bochy (4)
What to know: Now, if voting were done at the conclusion of the World Series, we know who the winner would be, but only the regular season is factored in here, making this an interesting three-way discussion — although it looks like Cash is a distant third based on our experts’ picks. Rangers GM Chris Young pulled Bochy out of a three-year retirement to give the Rangers his quiet, experienced leadership at the helm. The Rangers roared out of the gate with a 35-20 record at the end of May. They entered the final series of the season with a 2½-game lead in the AL West but lost three of four to Seattle, costing them the division title. That blip might also cost Bochy the award (which he has won once before, with the Padres in 1996).
Hyde is the favorite after the Orioles exceeded expectations for a second straight season, following up 2022’s surprising 83-win season with 101 wins, the first time the Orioles cracked the century mark since 1980. Many expected the Orioles to regress from 2022; instead, they improved by 18 wins, including an impressive 30-16 record in one-run games. In his fifth season with the Orioles, Hyde has guided the rebuild from 108 losses in 2019 and 110 in 2021 to an AL East championship.
Manager of the Year must-reads:
Why Bruce Bochy might be the greatest manager ever
National League Manager of the Year
Stacy Revere/Getty Images
• Craig Counsell,
Milwaukee Brewers • Skip Schumaker, Miami Marlins • Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves
Experts’ picks: Counsell (7 votes), Schumaker (6)
What to know: There were plenty of standout managerial performances in the National League. Snitker, the 2018 winner, has finished fourth or better in the balloting for six straight years. He led the Braves to 104 wins, the franchise’s highest total in 25 years. Deploying a more consistent starting lineup than any manager in baseball, Snitker oversaw an offense that clubbed 307 homers. Still, given Atlanta’s preseason-favorite status, he feels like a long shot to add a second MOY trophy to his display case. Schumaker, a first-time manager, is more of a classic Manager of the Year candidate. The Marlins outperformed their preseason over/under consensus by 8.5 wins and their run profile by an MLB-high 9.1 wins.
Counsell, like Cash, is a fixture in the conversation about the game’s top skippers. However, while Cash is a two-time Manager of the Year winner, Counsell has never won, finishing second in the voting in 2018, 2019 and 2021. His standout statistic this season is Milwaukee’s 29-18 record in one-run contests, continuing Counsell’s annual dominance in a category many analysts see as a baseline 50-50 proposition. It’s this consistent excellence that made Counsell such a sought-after figure in a crowded managerial market, and he was ultimately poached by the Cubs to become the game’s highest-paid skipper. Conspicuous by his absence among the finalists: Cincinnati’s David Bell, whose Reds beat their preseason over/under consensus by 16.5 wins.
Manager of the Year must-reads:
Why Cubs stole Craig Counsell from Brewers
How Craig Counsell reset the managerial salary landscape — maybe forever