The American League MVP race very likely has a runaway winner. At this point, we’re probably just waiting for whether a certain someone will win the hardware unanimously.
However, just because one guy has stolen the show, it’d be irresponsible to not highlight the talent there is in the sport.
So, here are the cases for the three AL MVP finalists, with the winner to be announced Thursday night.
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Shohei Ohtani is the heavy favorite to win his second MVP.
Corey Seager – Texas Rangers SS
The postseason isn’t considered for voting because ballots are sent once the regular season ends, but Seager’s performance this past October (and November) will forever be remembered in Texas after he was named the MVP of the World Series.
Texas signed Seager to a $325 million deal before the 2022 season, and in his first year in Arlington, it looked like it would be a bust. However, he proved to everyone why he signed that pact.
His .327 batting average, .627 slugging percentage, 1.013 OPS were all the second-best marks in the AL (MLB ranks: fifth, second and second), and he also was a Gold Glove Award finalist. His 42 doubles led the AL, as did his 6.4 offensive WAR. He was the catalyst for a World Series-winning team and brought the Rangers their first ever championship.
The lefty slugger was named an All-Star for the fourth time, and he probably could have hit 40 homers had he not played in only 119 games, although he did tie his career-best with 33 from last season. His 96 RBI were also the most he’s ever had.
This is the second time he’s ever been a finalist, having finished in third in the NL MVP voting as a Los Angeles Dodger in 2016.
Corey Seager of the Texas Rangers celebrates after hitting a home run in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game 1 of the World Series, October 27, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. (Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Marcus Semien – Texas Rangers 2B
This is the third time Semien has been a finalist for the award. He finished in third both in 2019 and 2021.
He was one of just four players to play in all 162 games this season, and his 753 plate appearances led the majors. He led the American League with 185 hits (fourth in MLB) and 122 runs scored (fifth). He also led AL position players with a 7.4 WAR, and his 320 total bases were second. He was one of five players in the American league to drive in 100 runs.
His numbers aren’t necessarily eye-popping, but a 100-RBI guy at the top of a lineup that Bruce Bochy penciled in every day certainly deserves recognition as a finalist, at least.
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Marcus Semien of the Texas Rangers rounds the bases after hitting a home run in the ninth inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks during Game 5 of the World Series at Chase Field on November 1, 2023, in Phoenix, Arizona. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels P/DH
If it weren’t for Aaron Judge’s race for the Triple Crown while beating Roger Maris for the most home runs in a single season by an American League player in 2022, Ohtani would be (likely) winning his third consecutive MVP.
This past season, he led the majors with a .654 slugging percentage and 1.066 OPS, his .412 on-base percentage was second, his 44 homers were fourth, and his .304 average was ninth. That alone is an MVP-caliber player.
But in case you live under a rock, he also pitches at an elite level.
The right-hander owned a 3.14 ERA and struck out 11.4 batters per nine innings. Among pitchers who threw 130.0 innings, his ERA was the ninth-lowest in baseball and his K/9 was sixth. Among AL pitchers with that number of innings, he ranked fifth and third, respectively. His 10.0 WAR, by far, led the majors, as Mookie Betts’ 8.3 was second. He would become the 33rd player to win multiple MVP Awards.
And here’s the fun part: He’s a free agent, and his time with the Angels is likely over.
Ohtani will not pitch in 2024 after undergoing Tommy John surgery at the end of the season, but when he’s on the mound, he’s dominant, and he might be the best hitter in all of baseball. So, it’s hard to imagine that teams will try to play chess in their negotiations.
Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is congratulated by teammates after hitting a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates, July 23, 2023, in Anaheim, California. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
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It’s been discussed that Ohtani could not only become the first person to sign a $500 million contract, but he even could go for $600 million. That may be a pipe dream, but right now, Ohtani is still likely to ink the richest deal in baseball history.