Now that we are two months into the MLB season, the MVP Race in the American League is heating up. Aaron Judge won last year and has been struggling to remain healthy. The list of pitchers at the top of the American League is different from years past. The current list of players is arranged by the highest current WAR to the lowest.
The Tampa Bay Rays have been an exciting team to watch this season. After starting with a crazy unbeaten streak, they have soared to the top of the American League East. One of the biggest reasons for that is shortstop Wander Franco. Currently, the 22-year-old is hitting .309/.374/.500. On the base path, he is a menace, stealing 21 bases. His career total was 10 coming into the season. Defensively he has given his fair share of highlights. Currently, he leads the majors in WAR (Wins Above Replacement) at 3.9. If Wander Franco were to win MVP, he would be the youngest to win since Cal Ripken Jr. won at 22 in 1983.
Wander Franco is putting up video game numbers IRL. 👀
— MLB (@MLB) June 7, 2023
Marcus Semien had an off year in 2022. However, this season, much like the Texas Rangers as a whole is a different story. In 60 games with the Rangers, he is hitting .304/.372/.504 with 9 home runs and 50 RBI. Semien is also leading the majors in runs scored with 55. Despite finishing in the top three for MVP twice, Semien only has one all-star selection. If he were to win the MVP, he would be the first Ranger to win the MVP since Josh Hamilton won in 2010 (the first year the Rangers won the pennant).
It is no surprise that another AL East shortstop is on this list. Bo Bichette is the MLB leader in hits in the last two seasons and received MVP votes in both years. Currently, he is leading the majors in hits with 88 and total bases with 140. He is leading the American League with his .332 batting average. Defensively, he has held his own and is a contender to win the Gold Glove. The Toronto Blue Jays have a lineup full of stars, but Bichette is shining the brightest.
No list would be complete without the best player in the world. The 2021 AL MVP finished just a few votes short of his second MVP in 2022 behind Aaron Judge. The designated hitter is hitting .276/.352/.522 with 16 home runs and 42 RBI. On the other side of the ball, he is 5-2 with a 3.30 ERA, including 96 strikeouts in 71 innings. Very few people in baseball excel as both a hitter and a pitcher. So long as Ohtani can continue to dominate on both sides of the ball, he will be a favorite for the MVP.
When Shohei Ohtani hits a home run that isn’t at least 450 feet, I get confused. pic.twitter.com/IN7EpuejVl
— Jared Carrabis (@Jared_Carrabis) June 7, 2023
Another member of the Tampa Bay Rays is a favorite for the MVP award. As a pitcher this season, the lefty is 9-1 with a 2.02 ERA. McClanahan is second in the American League in ERA+ with 199 (the average pitcher is 100). In addition, he has 87 strikeouts in 75 and 2/3 innings. He has been off to a great start and is a favorite to win the Cy Young. A pitcher rarely wins MVP, but if he wins this year, he would be among some elite company. The last pitcher to win an MVP was Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers won in 2014. If McClanahan were to win, he would be the third pitcher in 30 years to win the award.
Photo Credit- Nathan Ray Seebeck- USA TODAY Sports