World Series MVP candidates: Ranking the chances of all 50 Red Sox and Dodgers players

Thanks to an almost historic comeback in Game 4, the Boston Red Sox are one win away from their fourth World Series championship in the last 15 years. They’ll look to clinch the title with a win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday night, in Game 5 at Dodger Stadium. Here’s how you can watch Game 5.

Now that every baseball game may be the last of the series and the last of the season, it’s time to sit down and take stock of the World Series Most Valuable Player candidates. The final chapter of this story still needs to be written, but, at this point, we’ve got a pretty good idea who the best (and worst) World Series MVP candidates are.

So, with that in mind, let’s rank all 50 World Series players by their World Series MVP chances. Come with me, won’t you?

The leading candidates

1. David Price
2. Steve Pearce
3. Andrew Benintendi  

Another strong start and another win in Game 5 will almost certainly lock up the World Series MVP award for Price. He pitched well in the Game 2 win and made a relief appearance on one day of rest in Game 3. A quality outing (on short rest) in Game 5 puts Price in the lead for the award, I believe. Funny, isn’t it? Two weeks ago this guy was considered a capital-C Choker in the postseason. Now he’s the leading candidate to win World Series MVP.

Pearce drove in four runs in the Game 4 comeback and he drew the game-tying bases loaded walk in Game 2. He’s been on base six times in 11 plate appearances without striking out once. Pearce will be in the lineup in Game 5 (and potentially Game 6 as well) against a lefty and another few times on base and/or runs batted in could push him into the World Series MVP lead should Price not dominate. Benintendi has four hits in Game 1 and is hitting .357 with a .400 on-base percentage in the series.

The best candidates who need some help

4. Nathan Eovaldi
5. Eduardo Nunez
6. Walker Buehler
7. Max Muncy
8. Justin Turner

Had the outcome of Game 3 been different, Eovaldi would be the World Series MVP favorite. He threw a scoreless inning out of the bullpen in Games 1 and 2 before turning in six heroic innings in relief in the Game 3 marathon. The only reason Eovaldi is not in the “leading candidates” tier is the fact he took the loss in Game 3. Is it his fault? No way. Blame his offense. But, with Eovaldi unlikely to pitch in Game 5, it’s hard to see a guy winning World Series MVP with an 0-1 record. He needs there to be a Game 6 (and 7?) so he can get back on the mound again to have a realistic shot at the award.

Nunez clocked that big three-run home run in Game 1 and drove home the go-ahead run in Game 3, and has really left it all out on the field this series. A big Game 5 could win him the award and he’ll need it, because right now he has about half the plate appearances as some other World Series MVP candidates. Buehler shoved in Game 3 and would have to shove again in a potential Game 7 to win the award. Muncy had the walk-off homer in Game 4 and Turner’s been great all series (.381/.409/.476). The Dodgers need those two to come up big to have a shot to win this series, and, if they do, they’ll be prime World Series MVP candidates.

Still have a chance

9. J.D. Martinez
10. David Freese
11. Craig Kimbrel
12. Yasiel Puig
13. Jackie Bradley Jr.
14. Rich Hill
15. Brock Holt  

Martinez has not had that huge J.D. Martinez game yet this postseason, though he has driven in four runs in four World Series games. A .214 batting average with one extra-base hit (a double) doesn’t scream World Series MVP, though. Martinez still has a shot at the award because he’s a great hitter and could carry the Red Sox to a win in the clincher.

Puig and Bradley have hit memorable home runs in the series while Freese (.333/.450/.333) and Holt (.250/.455/.375) have made the most of their limited playing time. Boston has lefties lined for Games 5 and 6 and that means Freese will be in the lineup with the opportunity to improve his World Series MVP chances. Holt is likely to start at second base the rest of the series for the Red Sox.

That garbage time two-run home run in Game 4 is going to hurt Kimbrel’s World Series MVP chances. He has been pretty excellent in the series aside from that. A dominant two-inning save in the clincher is his best chance at the award. Hill was great in Game 4 and is going to need to get back on the mound at some point to have a chance to win World Series MVP, and, given the series outlook, Hill would almost certainly pitch in relief rather than start. Tough to strengthen a case that way.

Unlikely to win MVP

16. Manny Machado
17. Mookie Betts
18. Clayton Kershaw
19. Chris Sale
20. Eduardo Rodriguez
21. Rick Porcello  
22. Joe Kelly
23. Mitch Moreland
24. Rafael Devers
25. Hyun-Jin Ryu
26. Christian Vazquez
27. Kenley Jansen
28. Cody Bellinger

Machado and Betts are so obviously talented, but they have both been quiet this series. Machado is hitting .222/.250/.222 while Betts is at .211/.318/.263. They’re great and they could break out in Game 5 and put their team on their backs, for sure. Tough to make up for four games of that though, especially for Betts, who’d have to vault himself ahead of several teammates to win the award and with only one win available to do so. Kershaw can climb the World Series MVP candidate power rankings with a dominant Game 5 start to extend the series. He wasn’t particularly good in Game 1, however, which hurts his case.

Through four appearances Kelly has been phenomenal in the World Series (seven strikeouts in five scoreless innings), but when’s the last time a middle reliever won World Series MVP? Pretty much never. I lump Jansen in with this group rather than the next group only because you know Dodgers manager Dave Roberts will lean on him, and if the Dodgers do come back in the series, Kenley’s going to get some big outs along the way. Despite those back-to-back blown saves in Games 3-4, I think the door is still open for Jansen to win World Series MVP, but it’ll take a heroic effort.

As for Bellinger, he’s been terrible in the series so far (.067/.067/.067), though he did make the defensive play of the series in Game 3. That play plus some huge offensive efforts in Games 5-7 are Bellinger’s only shot at the World Series MVP award.

No chance

29. Xander Bogaerts
30. Pedro Baez
31. Julio Urias
32. Joc Pederson
33. Matt Kemp
34. Chris Taylor
35. Yasmani Grandal
36. Enrique Hernandez
37. Sandy Leon
38. Matt Barnes
39. Austin Barnes
40. Ryan Brasier
41. Heath Hembree
42. Kenta Maeda
43. Ian Kinsler
44. Brian Dozier
45. Dylan Floro
46. Blake Swihart
47. Scott Alexander
48. Alex Wood
49. Drew Pomeranz  
50. Ryan Madson

Bogaerts has been invisible pretty much all series and it’s hard to see him doing enough the rest of the way to jump near the top of the list. He’d need to have some huge games (plural), and to do that, he needs the Red Sox to lose so he can continue playing. Not realistic at all. Just about everyone else in this tier is a part-time/platoon player who’s had a quiet series or a non-closer reliever of varying effectiveness. 

When ranking all 50 players by their World Series MVP candidacy, the easiest call was Madson last. Pomeranz hasn’t even pitched in the series and I have him above Madson. Madson’s inherited seven runners in his three appearances and all seven have come around to score. He’s allowed more inherited runners to score this series than any reliever in any World Series ever. There is plenty of blame to go around when a team is down 3-1 in a best-of-seven series. Madson bears the brunt of it right now.

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