Yes, it's only May. But if you're going to win an MVP Award, it's important to have a strong start to the season. We took a poll at MLB.com to see which players are viewed as frontrunners for each league's MVP Award in 2022, based on their production so far this year and prospects for continuing that production throughout the season. Here are the results (64 votes):
1) Mike Trout, OF, Angels (39 first-place votes)
DraftKings MVP odds: 4-1
After missing most of last season due to a right calf injury, Trout hasn’t taken long to reclaim his place at the head of the AL MVP race. The 30-year-old entered Wednesday -- when he was not in the starting lineup but drew a pinch-hit walk in the 10th inning -- with an MLB-leading 1.183 OPS, which would be a career-high, plus nine homers, 19 RBIs and 2.6 wins above replacement, per Baseball-Reference, over 27 games. As a bonus, the Angels are playing winning baseball this year, making Trout a slam-dunk choice for the top spot. If he wins the MVP Award this year, it would be his fourth, a number only Barry Bonds (seven) has reached all-time.
2) José Ramírez, 3B, Guardians (10 first-place votes)
DraftKings MVP odds: 12-1
Ramírez has come oh so close to winning an MVP Award on multiple occasions in the past, and after signing a new seven-year, $141 million deal that will keep him in Cleveland through 2028, the third baseman has his sights set on getting over the hump in 2022. J-Ram is hitting .297 with seven homers, an MLB-leading 30 RBIs and a .996 OPS as the linchpin in a surprisingly potent Guardians lineup.
3) Aaron Judge, OF, Yankees (3 first-place votes)
DraftKings MVP odds: 7-1
A free agent after 2022, Judge bet on himself when he turned down the Yankees’ contract extension offer prior to Opening Day, and he likely has no regrets at this point. The imposing slugger crushed the first walk-off homer of his career Tuesday against the Blue Jays to take sole possession of the big league lead in dingers and keep the Bronx Bombers atop the standings with MLB’s best record.
4) Shohei Ohtani, DH/RHP, Angels (9 first-place votes)
DraftKings MVP odds: 2.1-1
Last year’s unanimous choice for the AL MVP Award continues to make his presence felt on a daily basis. The two-way superstar looks better than ever on the mound, posting a 2.78 ERA with an eye-popping 46-to-7 K/BB ratio over 32 1/3 innings, and he’s chipped in on the other side of the ball with six homers, six doubles, five steals and 21 RBIs while appearing in every game for the Halos.
5) Vladimir Guerrero Jr., 1B, Blue Jays (1 first-place vote)
DraftKings MVP odds: 4.75-1
Ohtani’s epic season was the only thing that stopped Guerrero from winning the AL MVP Award last year, and our voters expect the 23-year-old to make some noise in this year’s race as well. While many of Toronto’s big bats have struggled so far, it’s been business as usual for Guerrero, who recorded the first three-homer game of his career on April 13 at Yankee Stadium and has an .873 OPS.
Others receiving votes: Wander Franco, Byron Buxton, Taylor Ward (2 first-place votes), J.P. Crawford, Yordan Alvarez, Ty France, Kevin Gausman, Anthony Rizzo, Manuel Margot, Rafael Devers, Tim Anderson, George Springer, Jeremy Peña
1) Manny Machado, 3B, Padres (45 first-place votes)
DraftKings MVP odds: 4.25-1
The Padres haven’t just survived Fernando Tatis Jr.’s wrist fracture, they’ve thrived without him due in large part to Machado’s performance. With another multi-hit game Wednesday, the 29-year-old is hitting .383/.460/.625 with seven homers, 22 RBIs and 76 total bases over his first 32 games, all while playing sparkling defense at the hot corner.
2) Nolan Arenado, 3B, Cardinals (8 first-place votes)
DraftKings MVP odds: 5.5-1
Another star third baseman with a knack for making highlight-reel plays with the glove, Arenado has carried a struggling Cardinals offense on his back this season, putting up a .315/.382/.595 line, seven homers and 25 RBIs in his first 29 games. If our poll was conducted last week, Arenado might have gotten the first-place nod, but the 31-year-old has slumped a bit recently, while Machado has continued to surge.
3) Juan Soto, OF, Nationals (8 first-place votes)
DraftKings MVP odds: 7-1
Although he's gotten off to a slow start this season by his lofty standards, Soto may be the best pure hitter in the game and our voters recognize that it's only a matter of time before the 23-year-old superstar puts up mind-boggling numbers. Soto is hitting .256/.392/.479 with seven home runs and an MLB-leading 25 walks (how's that for a "slow start" to the season?). Whether he is the 2022 NL MVP Award winner or not, it's hard to imagine Soto not winning an MVP Award or three if he stays healthy.
4) Freddie Freeman, 1B, Dodgers (1 first-place vote)
DraftKings MVP odds: 12-1
Freeman's transition to a new team for the first time in his MLB career has been smooth sailing so far -- he's hitting .315/.402/.509 for the Dodgers, once again looking like an MVP Award contender after winning the honor in 2020 with the Braves. It would definitely help if he got those power numbers up, though -- he's slugging 35 points below his slugging percentage from 2019-20, and he has just three homers so far this season.
5) Jazz Chisholm Jr., 2B, Marlins
DraftKings MVP odds: 70-1
That Chisholm is in the top five of our NL MVP Award voting at this point in the season (remember, this is about how our voters think things will end up shaking out, not simply how well certain players have done early in the season) is a testament to just how talented this guy is. The 24-year-old second baseman launched his sixth homer of the season Wednesday to go along with an MLB-leading three triples and a .295/.337/.611 slash line.
Others receiving votes: Pete Alonso (2 first-place votes), C.J. Cron, Ronald Acuña Jr., Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts, Bryce Harper, Carlos Rodón, Willy Adames, Josh Bell, Eric Hosmer, Matt Olson, Max Scherzer, Rowdy Tellez, Trea Turner, Fernando Tatis Jr., Jeff McNeil, Walker Buehler, Austin Riley, Josh Hader, Nick Castellanos, Willson Contreras