1st MVP poll of 2024 reveals two clear frontrunners

April 23rd, 2024

The early weeks of the 2024 MLB season have seen MVP-worthy starts from an impressive number of players. Not to mention a few seemingly dark horse candidates who've nudged their names into the conversation with multiple big games and clutch moments in the early going.

This is all reflected in MLB.com's first MVP poll of the season. Though two names dominated the voting, a total of 24 American League players and 23 National League players received votes from the 45 experts who cast ballots. In other words, as was the case with our first Cy Young poll, the MVP races are still thrillingly wide open.

Voters ranked their top five picks in each league on a 5-4-3-2-1 scale – five points for a first-place vote, four points for a second-place vote and so on. Here are the results.

All stats are through Sunday.


, Yankees (38 first-place votes)

Talk about living up to a narrative. The Soto-Yankees pairing generated MVP talk as soon as he was traded to the Bronx Bombers from the Padres in December, and it didn't take him long to show why.

Soto had three multi-hit games in his first four contests with the Yankees – including two three-hit games – and he hasn't really slowed down since. In 22 games, Soto leads the AL with a .456 on-base percentage and carries a 1.035 OPS. He's clubbed five homers and driven in 20 runs, and has already drawn 19 walks. Oh, yeah: He also has a 203 wRC+, which is somehow not even the best in baseball (we'll get to that).

Just Soto doing Soto things – and giving the Yankees the potent lefty bat they desperately needed.

, Royals (three first-place votes)

Now in his third season, Witt continues to establish himself as one of baseball's premier bats. He's off to the hottest start of his young career, carrying a career-best .300 average and .928 OPS through his first 97 plate appearances. And his potent combo of power and speed (highlighted by four homers and an AL-leading three triples) is a big reason why the Royals are off to a surprising start in the AL Central. (Witt's 61.4 percent hard-hit rate is just one reason why his Baseball Savant page features as much red as a fleet of fire trucks.)

Witt also has nine multi-hit games, tied for second-most in baseball, punctuated by a 4-for-5, two-homer and five-RBI performance April 11 against Astros. He continues to play stellar defense too: His 0.7 dWAR ranks third in the AL.

, Angels (four first-place votes)

Healthy again after missing half of the 2023 season, Trout has looked more like his usual self so far in 2024. His eight homers lead the AL and his .904 OPS is the highest it's been in nearly a calendar year (.908 last May 9).

Trout's expected .599 slugging percentage is in the top 5 percent of the league and is the highest it's been since 2020. He's also cut way down on strikeouts compared to his past several seasons (19.8 percent so far) and has rediscovered his stolen-base game, having swiped five bags already this season – the most stolen bases he's had at this point in a season since 2015.

A Trout who looks more like the vintage version has been a pleasant surprise and is one reason why the Angels have remained within shouting distance of first place in the AL West.

, Astros

It's certainly not unusual to see Altuve's name on a list of MVP favorites. What is unusual is that he's been one of the few bright spots for an Astros team that has yet to even reach .500 this season.

Despite Houston's disappointing start, it's been business as usual for Altuve, who's batting .351 with a 1.015 OPS through the team's first 23 games. He's already had five three-hit games this season, including three straight from April 13-16. His eight doubles and 56 total bases each leads the AL, and his five homers are tied for the team lead.

Altuve's .419 on-base percentage not only ranks among the league leaders, but would be the highest of his career and his highest since 2019 (.410).

The unanimous 2023 AL Rookie of the Year is putting himself in position to potentially add another coveted award to the trophy case.

Henderson's building upon that excellent '23 campaign and is showing improvements in his on-base and slugging skills, and he continues to establish himself as one of Baltimore's top offensive threats.

His six homers lead the team and he has a 1.011 OPS over his past 12 games. Overall, he's hit safely in 15 of the Orioles' first 21 games. Henderson's contributions help explain why the Orioles have become one of MLB's most potent offenses, and one of baseball's elite teams.

Others receiving votes: Adolis García (Rangers), Salvador Perez (Royals), Yordan Alvarez (Astros), Aaron Judge (Yankees), Marcus Semien (Rangers), Kyle Tucker (Astros), Corey Seager (Rangers), Adley Rutschman (Orioles), Josh Naylor (Guardians), Jordan Westburg (Orioles), Taylor Ward (Angels), Julio Rodríguez (Mariners), Anthony Volpe (Yankees), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays), Tyler O’Neill (Red Sox), José Berríos (Blue Jays), José Ramírez (Guardians), Kutter Crawford (Red Sox), Rafael Devers (Red Sox)


, Dodgers (41 first-place votes)

After finishing second in MVP voting to Ronald Acuña Jr. in 2023, Betts has paced the NL race pretty much from the beginning this year.

Betts is at or near the top of not just the National League, but all of baseball, in a slew of key categories: bWAR (2.2), on-base percentage (.469), OPS (1.103), batting average (.355), runs (24), walks (20) and total bases (59). He also has an MLB-best 204 wRC+, which seems almost unfathomable. For comparison, Acuña's wRC+ in his historic MVP season was 170.

In a Dodgers lineup already loaded with MVP winners, Betts has stood apart so far in 2024 and is making a strong early case to join teammate Shohei Ohtani as a two-time winner.

, Dodgers

Never, ever count out Ohtani in an MVP discussion. Even though he's only showcasing one part of his game in 2024 while he recovers from elbow surgery last season, that one part is plenty extraordinary.

Ohtani continues to be must-see entertainment whenever he's on the field. Just consider this rundown: Ohtani is the MLB leader in hits (35), doubles (11), batting average (.368) and total bases (63). He's also in the 99th percentile in expected batting average (.370), expected slugging percentage (.701) and barrel percentage (20.8).

Almost an afterthought: Ohtani also has five home runs, including one Sunday that made him the all-time MLB leader in dingers among players born in Japan. The only reason he's not the MVP favorite going away is because he's not pitching this season. Because even an average season on the mound would almost certainly make him a no-brainer to capture his third MVP Award in the past four seasons, despite Mr. Betts' best efforts.

, Braves (two first-place votes)

It's easy to pick Acuña as an MVP contender after his historic 40-70 campaign last season, even if 2024 hasn't started as hot as he'd like.

Though he has just one homer so far this season, Acuña has overcome an uncharacteristic slow (for him) start to put up a 134 wRC+ through 20 games, which is still plenty good. His .419 on-base percentage leads the team and his 21 runs scored are tied for second-most in baseball.

Acuña's also well on his way to challenging his MLB-leading 73 stolen bases from last season. His nine steals this year are the second-highest total in baseball.

, Braves (one first-place vote)

Ozuna has been on quite a heater since last May. After a very poor start to 2023 that saw him produce a wRC+ of just 10 through May 1, Ozuna has become one of baseball's most feared hitters.

Through 20 games this season, Ozuna leads baseball with nine homers, 27 RBIs, a .713 slugging percentage and a 1.117 OPS – picking up where he left off in 2023, when he finished with 40 homers and 100 RBIs after that slow start. But then, these are the types of things that happen when a hitter consistently stings the ball like Ozuna.

He rates in MLB's top 1 percent or better in expected batting (.389) and expected slugging (.810), and his 92.2 mph average exit velocity is the highest it's been in four seasons. And his barrel rate? It's 19.7 percent, easily the highest of his career. It's all made Ozuna a major contributor to the Braves' MLB-leading .828 team OPS.

Tatis is again starting to look like the superstar who produced an MLB-leading 7.3 bWAR in 2021 and NL-best 42 homers en route to a third-place finish in MVP voting – which means it could be a fun summer in San Diego.

Though his traditional stats are solid to good (.261 average; six homers; .821 OPS), a look under the hood shows there's reason for excitement for the Padres and their fans.

Tatis is hitting the ball harder than he has since 2021, which is why he's among MLB's top performers in expected average (.312) and slugging percentage (.556). Also, his strikeout rate is the lowest it's ever been (16.2 percent). So, more contact combined with hard-hit balls generally spells a lot of hits and runs – which is exactly how MVP cases are made.

Others receiving votes: Elly De La Cruz (Reds), William Contreras (Brewers; one first-place vote), Ketel Marte (D-backs), Michael Busch (Cubs), Bryce Harper (Phillies), Trea Turner (Phillies), Orlando Arcia (Braves), Pete Alonso (Mets), CJ Abrams (Nationals), Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (D-backs), Matt Olson (Braves), Spencer Steer (Reds), Corbin Carroll (D-backs), Dansby Swanson (Cubs), Freddie Freeman (Dodgers), Logan Webb (Giants), Zac Gallen (D-backs), Christian Yelich (Brewers)