4 Dodgers who can win 2023 awards and where they currently stand

Los Angeles Dodgers v Arizona Diamondbacks
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Mookie Betts: No. 4 in NL MVP race

Although being No. 4 in the race this late into the year seems like an unenviable spot to be in, this year's NL MVP race is one of the closest we've seen in a while. If the season ended today, it's very likely that all of the top three (Acuña, Freeman and Matt Olson) candidates would get a few first-place votes, and I wouldn't put it past an MVP voter or two to give some credit to Betts as well. We have already discussed Acuña and Freeman's respective stats enough, but Olson gives a different type of candidacy for MVP. His strength is that he's a true slugger, anchoring the cleanup spot for the Braves. When Acuña, or other teammates Ozzie Albies and Austin Riley get on base, Olson is the guy to clean it up.

Olson leads the NL with 43 HRs, 108 RBI and a .601 SLG, and that clear separation from the rest of the league as the best cleanup hitter gives Olson an extremely good case for MVP. But outside of those numbers, he lacks the versatility that Freeman and Acuña have (each of them have clearly been better baserunners and defenders than Olson this season), and that's where Betts stays close in the MVP race. While Acuña has started every game in right field, and Freeman and Olson have started every game at first base, Betts has been all around the diamond, and his versatility with the Dodgers this season gives a different type of value that none of the other candidates have.

Betts has played 87 games in right field, but has added 42 games at second base and 16 games at shortstop, and his offensive numbers have stayed the same, regardless of having to adapt to playing multiple positions for the Dodgers.

His ability to play different positions has allowed the Dodgers to counter Gavin Lux's torn ACL, Miguel Rojas' injury issues/bad offense, and slumps from Miguel Vargas and others without requiring excessive roster moves. Through it all, Betts has posted a higher OBP, SLG, OPS and OPS+ at the plate than he did during his two second-place MVP finishes in the past.

However, Mookie may be a victim of circumstances, as other than the AL MVP of 2016 (Mike Trout) and NL MVP of 2020 (Freddie Freeman), he separated himself from the rest of the hitters in the league, whereas this year, there are three other players having MVP-caliber seasons all at the same time. Betts still ranks top six in the National League in BB, 2B, R, HR, RBI, OBP, SLG and OPS, which, paired with his versatility, makes a strong case for NL MVP from an across-the-board numbers standpoint. Without a very strong finish to the season from a slugging or on-base perspective, though, versatility alone won't be enough to propel Betts to winning MVP when judged against the other NL MVP candidates.