The Atlanta Braves' Ronald Acuna Jr. is having a historical season. He is currently on pace for 37 homers and 79 steals. Acuna leads all of baseball in runs scored with 93. His 51 steals is far and away the best in the MLB, eight ahead of Esteury Ruiz of the Oakland A's. Should Acuna continue his pace through the end of the year, he'll be the first player to break 70 steals in a season since 2009.
Acuna has cut the strikeouts down in a big way this season. His .333 average, 11.5% walk rate, and 12.2% strikeout rate have MVP written all over them. Acuna is the first player to ever have 20 homers and 50 steals before August.
Acuna Jr. is also on pace for 98 RBI, which would be the third-most all-time as a leadoff hitter. He has a chance to break the all-time record set by Charlie Blackmon's 103 RBI in 2017.
How can Matt Olson Possibly Compete with Ronald Acuna Jr. for the MVP?
MVP voters really like home runs. Matt Olson is on pace for 56 home runs, which would be the most ever for an Atlanta Braves player. Andruw Jones currently holds the record with 51 dingers, set in 2005.
It will be difficult for Olson to overcome the power/speed combo Acuna brings to the table. Players like Christian Yelich and Mookie Betts earned MVP Awards through high batting averages, homers, and steals. However, anytime a player approaches 60 homers in a season, they are going to get some MVP attention.
Matt Olson's Spectacular Month of July
Olson ended June with a .246 batting average. He was so hot in July that he raised his season average to .263! How did he do that? He hit .325 with eight home runs. If Olson stays hot (he will have to in order to be considered in the MVP race), he could get his average to an MVP-worthy range.
In July, Olson added 22 RBI to his tally. We talked a lot about Acuna's paces, but take a look at the season Olson is putting together. He is currently on pace for nearly 140 RBI. If he stays hot down the stretch, there is a chance Matt Olson ends up with somewhere around 60 homers and 150 RBI. Those numbers still carry a lot of weight to the voters.
Conclusion: Olson or Acuna for MVP?
Ultimately, I highly doubt anything Olson does will help him overcome Acuna's magical season. Having multiple players in the MVP race is nothing to complain about. Ultimately, the fact that Acuna is performing at such a high level in every aspect of his offensive game still makes him the slam dunk choice.
Acuna is not striking out. He's hitting for a sky-high average. He's getting on base with the best in the league. He is on pace for 145 runs scored. He could break the all-time record for RBI from a leadoff hitter. He's still going to flirt with 40 homers. There is no shame in his game.
While 50-60 homers and 140-150 RBIs is worth considering, there are still holes in the numbers when you have to compare them to Ronald Acuna Jr.'s legendary 2023 season.
If Olson finishes with a .280 average, 60 homers, and 150 RBI, do you think he will be worthy of the MVP over Acuna? Let us know in the comments.