Austin Riley will finish in the top 5 in NL MVP voting
Lost in the otherworldly seasons from Ronald Acuna Jr. and Matt Olson in 2023 is that Austin Riley was a bona fide stud last season. In 715 plate appearances, Riley slashed .281/.345/.516 with 37 homers on his way to a 127 wRC+ and his third straight season with 4.8 fWAR or more. Riley is one of those guys that just goes out and does his job with little fanfare, but he is quickly establishing himself as one of the best hitters in baseball.
Over the last three seasons, Riley has garnered some MVP voting love as he has finished in the top 7 from 2021-2023. Again, there is no shame in that whatsoever. However, we are betting that 2024 is going to be the year that Riley finally breaks through.
Matt Olson's 2023 season was amazing and he will likely have a good season next year as well. However, 2023 feels like the best case scenario for Olson and it seems probable that he won't be QUITE as good next year. If he hits .260-.270 next year with 40 plus bombs, that it still a tremendous accomplishment and feels like it is very much in the cards.
However, we are betting that Austin finally joins the 40 home run club and posts a wRC+ north of 140 to eclipse Olson's production in 2024. Now that his defense at third base appears to be in a good spot, bet on a fantastic all-around season from Austin and a top 5 finish in NL MVP voting in 2024. He may not be able to match Ronald (who can?), but pencil him in as the second best Braves position player next season.