MLB Awards: AL and NL MVP, Cy Young, Rookie of the Year rankings, volume 1

May 24, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Corbin Carroll (7) runs the bases after hitting a double during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
May 24, 2023; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks left fielder Corbin Carroll (7) runs the bases after hitting a double during the first inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports /
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In the blink of an eye, two months of the 2023 Major League Baseball season have come and gone. A lot can (and probably will) change between now and the end of the season, but here would be my Most Valuable Player, Cy Young and Rookie of the Year picks if the ballot was due today.

Who’s leading in the MLB awards races, including MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year?

Note: All numbers were current as of Thursday, June 8, 2023

American League MVP
1. Shohei Ohtani
2023 stats: .275/.353/.551 (145 wRC+), 0. BsR, 3.30 ERA, 3.12 xERA, 3.98 FIP, 3.30 xFIP, 3.31 SIERA, 2.9 fWAR

Shohei Ohtani isn’t off to the best start, but Ohtani’s standards are much different than any other player in the history of baseball. After winning the MVP in 2021, Ohtani had an even better year in 2022, but a historic season from Aaron Judge was the only thing that kept him from winning the award in consecutive years.

In 2023, with a wRC+ higher than his teammate Mike Trout’s and an ERA slightly above Clayton Kershaw’s, Ohtani has essentially combined to be as good as two of the game’s best to ever play on both sides of the ball. As long as he doesn’t get hurt or traded to a National League team, Ohtani is in the driver’s seat to win his second MVP, even though he hasn’t fully played up to his standard.

2. Wander Franco
2023 stats: 59 G, .308/.372/.496 (146 wRC+), 9 DRS, 7 OAA, 1.6 BsR, 3.2 fWAR

Due to an in-season call-up in 2021 and due to injury in 2022, Wander Franco has yet to play a full season at the major league level. In 2023, though, Franco has stayed healthy and showcased why he is one of the sport’s most sought-after players.

While Franco was good across his first two seasons with the Rays, it wasn’t quite the production everyone expected from the former consensus No. 1 prospect. However, Franco has exceeded any former expectations in 2023 as he’s emerged as elite at the plate and in the field.

With his elite plate discipline and contact skills, Franco has hit for the most power (.188 ISO, .496 SLG) of his career, taking his offense to new heights. Additionally, Franco’s 9 Defensive Runs Saved and 7 Outs Above Average are already career highs and respectively lead all shortstops. If that wasn’t enough, Franco’s 21 stolen bases are the second-most in the AL. Barring injuries expect Franco to battle for his first MVP in 2023 and many future years.

3. Aaron Judge
2023 stats: 49 G, .291/.404/.674 (188 wRC+), -5 DRS, 1 OAA, 0.2 BsR, 2.8 fWAR

If not for a stint on the Injured List, Aaron Judge could be atop my MVP rankings. Even with his 10-game absence, the American League home run king has picked up right where he left off from his record-setting 2022 season.

The captain’s 188 wRC+ is the best in the major leagues while his 19 homers sit behind only Pete Alonso’s 21 (who has played in 11 more games than Judge). Depending on how long his new IL stint lasts, Judge could find himself in the MVP conversation for the fourth year of his career.

Honorable mentions: Marcus Semien, Bo Bichette

National League MVP
1. Ronald Acuña Jr.
2023 stats: 61 G, .331/.404/.555 (157 wRC+), 4 DRS, -5 OAA, 3.5 BsR, 2.9 fWAR

Halfway through the 2021 season, Ronald Acuña Jr. was well on his way toward winning his first MVP. Until he wasn’t. On July 10, Acuña tore his ACL, forcing him to miss the remainder of the season and the start of the 2022 season.

Acuña returned earlier than expected in 2022 allowing him to play in 119 games, but his production wasn’t the same. While he still accumulated 2.1 fWAR, Acuña produced the worst offensive and defensive seasons of his career.

In 2023, Acuña looks much like the pre-ACL tear version of himself, but he’s been even better. Although his play in right field has been inconsistent, Acuña’s 157 wRC+ is the second best in the NL while his 28 stolen bases lead the NL. Acuña struggled to return to full strength in 2022, but this year, he’s back and better than ever.

2. Sean Murphy
2023 stats: 51 G, .287/.389/.552 (154 wRC+), 3 DRS, 6.3 FRM, -3.1 BsR, 2.9 fWAR

Over the offseason, the Atlanta Braves sent a haul in a three-team trade that netted them Sean Murphy. Before the trade, Murphy was heavily regarded as one of the best backstops in the league. In Atlanta, and more importantly, out of Oakland, Murphy has been the best catcher in baseball.

Murphy has consistently been rated as one of the best defensive catchers in the majors, and he’s continued his dominance in 2023. Additionally, Murphy has consistently swung a good bat — especially for a catcher — but in 2023, Murphy’s production at the plate has straight-up been elite, for any position player.

Murphy’s 154 wRC+ is the fifth-best in the NL and when you pair that with elite defense behind the plate, you get one of the most valuable players in baseball. With his excellence on both sides of the ball, Murphy’s name should be in the middle of all MVP conversations.

3. Luis Arraez
2023 stats: 58 G, .403/.452/.495 (162 wRC+), 4 DRS, -3 OAA, -5.1 BsR, 2.1 fWAR

The last time a player in Major League Baseball hit .400 or better in a season was Ted Williams in 1941. Right now, Luis Arraez is on pace to accomplish the nearly impossible feat.

In an offseason trade, the Marlins acquired Luis Arraez in a blockbuster that saw them send a package headlined by Pablo Lopez to the Minnesota Twins. Even with the change of scenery, Arraez has continued to do what he does best … get on base. In addition to his batting average leading the majors, Arraez’s .452 OBP is the best in baseball while his 162 wRC+ is the best in the NL.

Whether he’s able to hit .400 or not, Arraez will definitely put together a fantastic offseason, but if he does get to or near the .400 mark, Arraez will definitely get a lot of love from the voters to win MVP.

Honorable mentions: Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts