Ronald Acuña Jr. And Mookie Betts Are Having an All-Time NL MVP Race

St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves
St. Louis Cardinals v Atlanta Braves / Matthew Grimes Jr./Atlanta Braves/GettyImages

The final month of the 2023 MLB season is upon us, and while Shohei Ohtani has had the American League MVP race wrapped up for months, the battle in the National League is heating up. Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. has long been the frontrunner to win the award on the senior circuit, though Los Angeles Dodgers star Mookie Betts is making a late charge. What follows is a breakdown of the race for the hardware and where we stand right now.

Let's just start this off by saying both Betts and Acuña are having phenomenal seasons and both are on World Series contenders. Acuña has broken records, becoming the first player in MLB history to hit 30 home runs and steal 60 bases in the same season, while Betts has exploded in the second half, becoming a one-man wrecking crew for the Dodgers. It's worth noting that Betts won the AL MVP in 2018 and that might work against him, as voters tend to love picking new winners. Acuña has never won it.

In 138 games this season, Acuña is hitting .330 with 32 home runs, 86 RBIs and 63 stolen bases. The 25-year-old has a .411 on-base percentage, is slugging .570 and therefore boasts an OPS of .981. He also has only struck out 76 times against 71 walks.

Betts has played in 132 games and is hitting .313 with 38 home runs and 99 RBIs. He only has 10 stolen bases, but boasts an on-base percentage of .408 and is slugging .609 for an OPS of 1.017. He has struck out 95 times again 80 walks.

So, yeah, it's hard to separate the two guys. The advanced stats would seem to favor Betts. He's currently first in the NL in WAR (7.9), fWAR (7.8) and wRC+ (174), while Acuña is second in WAR (6.6), third in fWAR (6.7) and third in wRC+ (164). Despite all of that -- and including the fact that Betts is better defender -- Acuña is still considered the favorite to win on most betting sites.

Below is a chart to compare the stats for both guys in the relevant categories. Their National League ranks are in parentheses.

Ronald Acuña Jr.

Mookie Betts

Batting Average

.330 (3rd)

.313 (5th)

Home Runs

32 (8th)

38 (4th)


86 (10th)

99 (3rd)

Total Bases

319 (1st)

313 (2nd)


.981 (3rd)

1.017 (1st)


6.6 (2nd)

7.9 (1st)


6.7 (3rd)

7.8 (1st)


164 (3rd)

174 (1st)

Runs Created

138 (1st)

135 (2nd)

No matter how you slice it, this is an incredibly close race that is likely to seesaw back and forth over the next few weeks.

If we're looking at trends for clues, over the last 30 days, Acuña is hitting .300, with seven home runs, 19 RBIs and an OPS of .898. Meanwhile, Betts is hitting .436, with eight home runs, 28 RBIs and an OPS of 1.247. It's fair to say, Mookie has the momentum.

Watching Acuña and Betts battle for the award over the next few weeks should be fascinating. Both men are deserving. We'll see who wins out in the end.