Los Angeles Angels right fielder Shohei Ohtani and Atlanta Braves right fielder Ronald Acuña Jr., two of baseball’s brightest stars, capped off their dominant seasons in 2023 by winning both the American League and National League Most Valuable Player awards on Thursday. Here’s what you need to know:
- Ohtani earned his second MVP award after winning one in 2021. He hit .304 with 44 home runs in 2023 and went 10-5 on the mound with a 3.14 ERA.
- Ohtani underwent elbow surgery in September and is expected to recover in time to play in 2024 and play in 2025. Despite his limitations, the 29-year-old is a top free agent this winter and is expected to sign a huge deal Wherever he goes. .
- Acuña led MLB in runs (149), hits (217), and on-base percentage (.416) in 2023. The 25-year-old led the Braves to a 104-58 record, best in the majors.
Why did Ohtani win?
The baseball world was in awe of Ohtani’s 2021 season. It was his breakout year, when everyone realized how special he was. There was no doubt that he would be the unanimous MVP winner that November. But 2023 was better. (His season was 2022 as well.) But there is no ambiguity in this year’s results. He has a higher OPS+ and ERA+ this year. His OPS was 1.066 and WHIP was 1.061.
Corey Seager had a great year. But he played in fewer games and had a lower OPS than Ohtani. He’s outclassed Ohtani in the offensive war, but it’s worth noting that Seager isn’t playing either. This is as intuitive as it was in 2021, even if it isn’t. — Sam Bloom, Angels staff writer
What’s next for Ohtani?
This MVP title comes with Ohtani’s free agency background. He’s eligible to sign anywhere at the moment, and much remains a mystery. He hasn’t taken questions since Aug. 9, after starting against the Giants. His agent, who usually speaks with reporters at GM meetings, declined to do so this year. Elbow surgery he had in September could impact his long-term future and possibly his ability to hit at the start of next season. Any team would pay for perhaps the greatest baseball player of all time. But even with that track record, there are still many variables at play when it comes to where Ohtani will report this spring – both in terms of his health and the contract he wants/will be able to sign. His value remains astronomical, but his status at the moment is very unorthodox. — Bloom
Study of the historical Acuña season
Quite simply, Acuña had one of the greatest seasons of any hitter in major league history. He hit .337 with 41 home runs, 106 RBIs, an NL-leading 73 stolen bases and an NL-leading 1.012 OPS, becoming the third player since 1947 to lead his league in stolen bases and OPS. He joins Hall of Famers Willie Mays, who did so twice in 1957-58, and Rickey Henderson in 1990 on that list. Around baseball, there is a growing popular opinion that Acuña is the most dynamic hitter since Henderson.
It would be an understatement of Acuña’s 2023 performance to suggest that he has become the fifth member of baseball’s sacred 40-40 club, players who have recorded at least 40 homers and 40 stolen bases in a single season. Before it was over, Acuña became the only member of the 40-50, 40-60 and 40-70 clubs. No one else in the 40-40 club had more than 46 steals.
Acuña Jr. becomes 1st in MLB 40-70 club
And to think, there are still questions going into the season about what version of Acuña the Braves can expect, having struggled most of 2022 with residual pain in his right knee from ACL surgery in 2021, when he was named MVP. -The beginning of the caliber. It didn’t take long for those questions to be answered this spring, and in a resounding way.
Acuña was the NL Player of the Month for April after hitting .352 with four homers, 13 stolen bases and a .986 OPS while playing every inning of all 27 Braves games. He never cooled down for any significant stretch after that hot first month, winning the MVP Award Another two-time NL MVP and finished the season with career bests in most major categories including OBP, runs, hits (217), doubles (35), walks (80) and games played (159), as well as average. OPS, RBIs and steals. Meanwhile, his 84 strikeouts were the fewest ever in a full season. – David O’Brien, writer of The Brave
Braves star Ronald Acuña Jr. wins MLB Player of the Year at the Players’ Choice Awards
(Photos: Nick Torchiaro and Amber Searles/USA Today)
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