There’s still a long way to go in the 2023 season, but as we move into the second week of May, a clear MVP frontrunner has emerged in each league.
In MLB.com’s first MVP Award poll of 2023, voters were asked to rank their top five AL and NL MVP candidates based on what has happened so far and what they expect will happen in the months to come. Players received vote points 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.
With 43 voters participating, the first-place selections in both the AL and NL received overwhelming support compared to the rest of the field. Here are the results.
1) Shohei Ohtani, SP/DH, Angels (30 first-place votes)
After following up his 2021 AL MVP Award with a second-place finish to Aaron Judge in 2022, Ohtani is putting together another MVP-caliber campaign in 2023. The two-way superstar looks better than ever on the mound, allowing just 16 hits while racking up an AL-leading 59 strikeouts and posting 2.54 ERA over 39 innings. Meanwhile, he’s slashed .301/.369/.526 with seven homers and 22 RBIs at the plate. He’s helped the Halos start off 20-16, which puts them squarely in contention for the AL West title.
2) Wander Franco, SS, Rays (3 first-place votes)
The Rays’ historic 29-7 start to the season has been a true team effort -- they’ve scored the most runs and allowed the fewest in the Majors. We could have seen any number of Tampa Bay players finish in this spot, but our voting panel clearly likes Franco’s chances of continuing what is shaping up to be a tremendous breakout campaign. The 22-year-old is slashing .307/.364/.540 with six homers, 21 RBIs and eight steals while providing stellar defense at shortstop.
3) Matt Chapman, 3B, Blue Jays (1 first-place vote)
Chapman has cooled off in May, but his sizzling April was still fresh in the minds of our voters. A career .240 hitter entering 2023, Chapman leads the AL in batting average (.349) and has produced an MLB-high 17 doubles with five homers, 21 RBIs and a 1.037 OPS this season.
4) Randy Arozarena, OF, Rays (6 first-place votes)
The second Rays player to crack the top five in our poll, Arozarena leads the team with 43 hits and 30 RBIs and is tied for first with nine homers. The 2021 AL Rookie of the Year has registered a .328 average and a .988 OPS through 34 games.
5) Mike Trout, OF, Angels (2 first-place votes)
A .919 OPS would represent a career-best mark for many players, but for Trout, it would actually be his lowest figure in nine years, which speaks to his longstanding greatness. It might not be long before the three-time AL MVP is back near 1.000 where he typically resides.
Others receiving votes: Rafael Devers (1 first-place vote), Yandy Díaz, Brent Rooker, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bo Bichette, Adley Rutschman, Yordan Alvarez, Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole, Marcus Semien, Jarred Kelenic, Jorge Mateo, Julio Rodríguez, Shane McClanahan, Adolis García, Masataka Yoshida
1) Ronald Acuña Jr., OF, Braves (40 first-place votes)
After posting solid-but-unspectacular offensive numbers in his return from a torn ACL last season, Acuña is back to full strength and absolutely crushing it. The 25-year-old has produced a .338 average, six homers, 21 RBIs, 15 steals and a .982 OPS over 35 games for the Braves, who lead the NL with 24 wins. He received nearly unanimous support for the NL’s top spot in our poll.
2) Sean Murphy, C, Braves (3 first-place votes)
Traded from the A’s to the Braves in December, Murphy has fully blossomed in Atlanta, becoming one of the truly elite backstops in the game. Already a strong defensive player with an above-average bat prior to joining the Braves, Murphy has raised his offensive game to a new level, leading the NL in OPS (1.047) while slugging .621 and reaching base at a .426 clip.
3) Luis Arraez, 2B, Marlins
Arraez could become the second player in history to win batting titles in both leagues, joining DJ LeMahieu, but why stop there? Can he also become the first batting title qualifier to hit .400 since Ted Williams in 1941? The second baseman owns an MLB-leading .417 batting average and .473 on-base percentage through 32 games in 2023, his first season with Miami after being traded from the Twins to the Marlins in the offseason.
4) Max Muncy, 3B, Dodgers
After suffering a torn UCL in his left elbow on the final day of the 2021 regular season, Muncy dealt with recurring issues related to his elbow in 2022 and struggled at the plate for much of the year. However, he’s returned to form in 2023, producing an MLB-leading 12 homers -- including a walk-off grand slam last week -- with 29 RBIs and a .935 OPS.
5) Mookie Betts, OF, Dodgers
Betts won the AL MVP Award in 2018 and has earned top-five finishes in the NL voting in two of his three seasons with the Dodgers, so he’s a good bet to be there when 2023 comes to a close. Coming off a career-high 35 homers in 2022, the dynamic outfielder (and now an occasional middle infielder) has gone deep six times while recording an .827 OPS over his first 34 games in 2023.
Others receiving votes: Xander Bogaerts, Pete Alonso, Matt Olson, Paul Goldschmidt, Bryan Reynolds, Zac Gallen, Francisco Lindor, Cody Bellinger, Fernando Tatis Jr., Corbin Carroll, Freddie Freeman, Trea Turner, Brandon Nimmo, Manny Machado, Spencer Strider, Brandon Marsh, Bryce Harper, Dansby Swanson, Juan Soto, James Outman, Jack Suwinski, Nick Castellanos