Ahead of the 2023 Major League Baseball season, Audacy Sports has examined six potential under-the-radar MVP candidates.
Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves
Olson homered 34 times and drove in 103 runs in 2022, and his first year with the Braves still felt a little underwhelming. But he's just two years removed from hitting 39 home runs, walking 88 times and posting an OPS north of 900. He's also a two-time Gold Glove Award winner. On his own team, Ronald Acuña Jr. and Austin Riley have better NL MVP odds. But it's certainly not difficult to imagine a scenario where the Braves win a crowded NL East race, and Olson is a serious candidate for the senior circuit's top honor.
Sandy Alcántara, Miami Marlins
Clayton Kershaw was the last pitcher to win NL MVP in 2014, and the fact that Alcántara only finished 10th a season ago is a reminder of how difficult it is for pitchers to take home the honor. Still, 18 players in the NL have better odds than Alcántara, which feels like a bit much a year after he won the Cy Young. If he's able to repeat as NL Cy Young Award winner and the Marlins make a surprise postseason appearance, the 27-year-old could be in the discussion.
J.T. Realmuto, Philadelphia Phillies
Realmuto is widely viewed as the best catcher in baseball, and finished seventh in NL MVP voting last season. And yet, he has the same odds to win the award this year as J.D. Martinez, Jake Cronenworth and Jonathan India. Bryce Harper will miss a significant chunk of the season as he recovers from Tommy John surgery, and most outlets believe that the New York Mets and Atlanta Braves have a better shot to win the NL East than the defending NL Champs. Should the Phillies wind up winning the division, it may be Trea Turner that's the best bet for MVP. But from here, it's a bit surprising that the aforementioned (and currently injured) Harper -- along with Kyle Schwarber and Rhys Hoskins -- have better odds to win the NL MVP.
Matt Chapman, Toronto Blue Jays
Again, this isn't a prediction of who will win the AL MVP, but potential candidates who could take home the honor and are being overlooked. Chapman has always turned in excellent power production, and is a two-time Platinum Glove Award winner. The 29-year-old would certainly need to improve quite a bit on his .229 batting average and .757 OPS from a season ago, but considering he's entering a contract year, it would be quite the time for a career year.
Marcus Semien, Texas Rangers
Semien was an AL MVP finalist in both 2019 and 2021, so if he continues to follow the every-other-year plan, 2023 should be a special season. The Rangers have quite a bit of star power on their team, but are one of the more top-heavy teams in the sport. If they're going to return to the postseason for the first time since 2016, stars like Semien, Corey Seager and Jacob deGrom will need to have MVP-caliber seasons.
Andrés Giménez, Cleveland Guardians
One of the key pieces acquired from the New York Mets in the Francisco Lindor trade, Giménez was an All-Star for the first time and finished sixth in AL MVP Award voting. He also won a Gold Glove Award, posting 16 defensive runs saved and 12 outs above average. More than 30 players currently have better AL MVP odds than Giménez, which frankly, is shocking.