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2023 MLB Dark Horse MVP Candidates


(Photo Credit: Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

2023 MLB Dark Horse MVP Candidates

We have an exhilarating MLB season coming your way. It’s easy to say who will perform well. Familiar names like Paul Goldschmidt, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani will likely shine and make solid cases for MVP. However, there are a bunch of forgotten players who could totally win it.

American League

Yordan Alvarez – DH – Houston Astros

He came close enough last year. Alvarez finished third in MVP and absolutely slaughtered the baseball. For the team that won the World Series, Alvarez led them in WAR with a crazy 6.8. He slashed .306/.406/.613 with 37 home runs and a dizzying OPS+ of 187.

In the upcoming season, Zeile Consensus Projections says he’ll bat .289/.375/.546 with 36 homers and 107 driven in. If Shohei Ohtani or Vlad Guerrero Jr have semi-down years, Yordan will be your MVP candidate.

Cedric Mullins – OF – Baltimore Orioles

In 2021, Mullins broke out with a stunning slash of .291/.360/.518 with 30 home runs. He also led the Orioles in WAR with 5.7. Last year was a different story, though. All of his offensive stats dropped off.

I, however, am not holding out on him. He’s proved his talent immensely and I genuinely feel like he could return to 2021 form in 2023.

Cedric will be going into his age-28 season and is joined by a very talented cast of players like Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander. This chemistry with these young guys could really spark something not only within Mullins but the entire team.

Carlos Correa – SS – Minnesota Twins

With the confidence in this man dwindling due to his ankle, I still believe Correa has what it takes to win MVP. He started last year very slowly but turned it around, slashing .291/.366/.467 with 22 home runs and a 140 OPS+. Last year his WAR was 5.4 but in 2021 it was 7.2.

He is so offensively sound that with his age being only 28 there’s not a whole lot to worry about yet regarding the ankle. Correa could win the AL MVP, especially if he receives more time in the DH role.

National League

Austin Riley – 3B – Atlanta Braves

Every year it seems like Riley performs at an epic level, yet nobody really takes notice. As a result, he is incredibly underrated. Riley’s 2021 and 22 campaigns were very similar. He averaged 36 home runs, had an OPS+ of 138, and a WAR of 6.3. Really outstanding numbers.

I think he’s just going to get better. Riley is going into his age-26 season and may have matured to the point of being able to be the leader of the Braves. He is also an above-average defender at third base. With all things considered, I think he could make a serious case for MVP in 2023.

Jeff McNeil – UTL – New York Mets

Utility wizard McNeil has all the pieces to earn MVP. He’s had a season where he’s hit 20 or more homers, a season where he led the majors in average, and two seasons with an OPS+ of 140 or better. McNeil also has crossed the 5 WAR plateau twice.

If he’s able to accumulate all these ingredients together, I’d say we have a serious MVP candidate on our hands. What the Mets need to do is to figure out a steady position for him. He’ll be 31 this season, so his shelf life for MVP is dwindling. If he’s going to do it, it has to be 2023.

Freddie Freeman – 1B – Los Angeles Dodgers

With all the hype and drama around him going to LA from Atlanta, Freddie Freeman ended up having an excellent season. Even though he is now in his early 30s, he is a model of consistency and durability.

I still don’t think he lived up to his full potential last season. Yes, I know Freeman batted .325/.407/.511 and led the league in hits, OBP, doubles and runs. What was missing is that power. Freeman’s power was slow to start, finishing the year with 21 homers – his lowest full-season total since 2015.

If he’s able to figure out his power stroke next season, I don’t have a doubt in my mind that Freeman would win MVP. He’s just that good. He’s hit as many as 38 home runs and that was only four years ago.


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