To call Shohei Ohtani the overwhelming favorite for AL MVP might be doing a disservice to the word “overwhelming.”
By any player evaluation method, Ohtani comes out far superior to any other player. That includes the SIS R&D creation, Total Runs, which sums a player’s offensive value (Batting Runs Created), baserunning value (Baserunning Runs), defensive value (Defensive Runs Saved), and pitching value (Pitching Runs Created) and adds a positional adjustment.
The statistic gives a good idea of a player’s all-around value.
Here are the leaders in Total Runs through Thursday.
|Ronald Acuña Jr.||Braves||123|
Ohtani’s 64-run lead over Ronald Acuña Jr. far surpasses the lead that any Total Runs leader had over those who finished No. 2 in that stat in its 21-year history.
The previous largest lead for No. 1 over No. 2 was by Ohtani, who outpaced Marcus Semien, 194-161, a 33-run difference in 2021. Ohtani beat Aaron Judge, 199-176 in 2022 for the next-highest differential, 23 runs.
There is typically not a large gap between the top two players in baseball. From 2003 to 2019, the average differential between No. 1 and No. 2 was 7 runs. In six instances, the top two either finished tied or one run apart.
But Ohtani is a special player and a special case given his prowess as both a hitter and pitcher. His 108 Batting Runs Created are 1 run shy of the MLB lead and he ranks 6th in Pitching Runs Created (72). The combination of the two makes this season among the most amazing in MLB history.
The AL MVP Race
Rather than asking who’s going to win the AL MVP, the better question is: Who’s comprising the rest of the Top 5?
This is the current AL Total Runs leaderboard.
|Luis Robert Jr.||White Sox||100|
Semien could be on his way to another Top 5 MVP finish. He’s finished 3rd twice, in 2019 and 2021. Semien has an .812 OPS, nearly 100 points higher than the average second baseman.
Rays shortstops Wander Franco doesn’t have offensive numbers quite as good as his teammate, Yandy Díaz or other shortstops like Corey Seager, Bo Bichette and Bobby Witt Jr. But Franco’s defense – an AL-best 16 Runs Saved – boosts him to 3rd in Total Runs.
Rangers right fielder Adolis García and White Sox center fielder Luis Robert Jr. are tied for 4th. García is on track to post career highs in every offensive stat. He leads the AL in RBI and ranks Top-6 in slugging percentage, OPS, and home runs. He’s also tied with Fernando Tatis Jr. for the MLB lead in Outfield Arm Runs Saved.
Robert Jr. has 31 home runs and 16 stolen bases at a premium position for the vastly-underperforming White Sox.
But it’s fair to say that the Total Runs leaderboard won’t fully define the AL MVP race. Case in point, this morning on the MLB Network show, MLB Central, analyst Mark DeRosa listed his No. 2 through 5 MVP picks as Seager, Adley Rutschman, Bichette, and Díaz. None of those players rank in the Top 5 in Total Runs. So it’s fair to say that there will be plenty of debate on much of the ballot as there are many strong candidates.
But there’s no debate whatsoever about who’s No. 1.