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MLB is on the verge of its first World Series rematch in over 40 years. The Houston Astros and Philadelphia Phillies both have a 3-2 lead in the Championship Series and are coming home for Game 6 and, if necessary, Game 7. There has not been a World Series rematch since the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Yankees met in the 1977 and 1978 World Series.

The Championship Series are not over yet, the Arizona Diamondbacks and Texas Rangers are fully capable of winning two straight games (and have already this round), but teams with a 3-2 lead in a best-of-seven have gone on to win the series 71% of the time, historically. This is the closest we've been to a World Series rematch in quite some time.

Unlike the Wild Card Series and Division Series, MLB does give out an MVP award for the Championship Series, and there are six former Championship Series MVPs playing this postseason: Justin Verlander (2017), Jose Altuve (2019), Corey Seager (2020), Yordan Alvarez (2021), Bryce Harper (2022), and Jeremy Peña (2022). Two others will join them soon.

With the understanding that neither series is over yet and a lot -- A LOT -- can change, here is our ranking of the top Championship Series MVP candidates with the Astros and Phillies each one win away from the World Series.

National League

1. Kyle Schwarber, Phillies. Five home runs in a best-of-seven series with at least one more game to play is a good way to earn MVP honors. Schwarber is the sixth player to hit five homers in a single Championship Series or World Series (i.e. the postseason rounds with an MVP award), and four of the previous five were named series MVP.

  • Nelson Cruz, 2011 ALCS: 6 HR (MVP)
  • Reggie Jackson, 1977 World Series: 5 HR (MVP)
  • Chase Utley, 2009 World Series: 5 HR (did not win MVP, Phillies lost the series)
  • George Springer, 2017 World Series: 5 HR (MVP)
  • Corey Seager, 2020 NLCS: 5 HR (MVP)
  • Kyle Schwarber, 2023 NLCS: 5 HR and counting

Schwarber is 7 for 17 (.412) in the NLCS and he also has more walks (five) than strikeouts (four). Seems like a pretty clear NLCS MVP to me, at least based on the five games to date.

2. Zack Wheeler, Phillies. The numbers are marvelous -- three runs and 10 baserunners in 13 innings across two starts -- and, in Game 5, Wheeler soaked up seven innings on only 99 pitches. Philadelphia's bullpen was very, very short, so they badly needed Wheeler to pitch deep into Game 5. He did that while allowing just one run. NLCS MVP caliber stuff, that is.

3. Ketel Marte, Diamondbacks. Marte is 9 for 21 (.429) with three doubles in the NLCS, he's had a hit in every game (and at least two hits in three of the five games), and he provided the walk-off single in Arizona's Game 3 win. If the D-backs manage to come back and win Games 6 and 7, you have to figure Marte will be right back in the middle of it. His MVP case is as strong as it can be for a player on a team down 3-2 in the series.

4. Bryce Harper, Phillies. Ho hum, Harper is 5 for 17 (.313) with two home runs and more walks (five) than strikeouts (three) in the NLCS. He's been excellent, as usual, and the only reason he's not his team's leading NLCS MVP candidate is Schwarber's power binge and Wheeler's two terrific starts. It's not hard to envision Harper having a huge Game 6 and winning MVP.

5. Aaron Nola, Phillies. Nola was terrific in Game 2 (six scoreless innings) and he will get the ball in Game 6 with a chance to win the pennant. A repeat of his Game 2 performance in Game 6 would up his MVP chances considerably.

Honorable mention: Gabriel Moreno, Diamondbacks. Arizona's young catcher is 5 for 18 (.278) in the NLCS and he drove in the game-winning run in their Game 4 comeback win. Alek Thomas has hit two home runs in the series, including the game-tying two-run blast in the eighth inning of Game 4, though those are his only two hits of the NLCS. Jeff Hoffman has struck out seven in 4 1/3 scoreless innings. He's gotten some enormous outs this series, but it's basically impossible for a non-closer reliever to win MVP.

American League

1. Jose Altuve, Astros. Other players have better numbers but his go-ahead ninth inning home run in Game 5 was iconic and the single most memorable moment of the postseason thus far. Clutch home runs like Altuve's tend to win you Championship Series MVP honors.

Altuve is 6 for 22 (.273) with two doubles and two homers in the ALCS even after going 0 for 8 in Games 1 and 2. He has a chance to join Steve Garvey (1978 and 1984) and Dave Stewart (1990 and 1993) in the two-time Championship Series MVP club.

2. Yordan Alvarez, Astros. It feels like every time Alvarez makes an out this postseason, it's because the pitcher got lucky. He has been a one-man wrecking crew in October and is 8 for 20 (.400) with two homers and 7 RBI in the ALCS. The only thing keeping Yordan out of the top spot in these rankings is Altuve's Game 5 homer.

3. Ryan Pressly, Astros. It got lost amid Altuve's home run and the benches-clearing brawl, but Pressly inherited runners on first and second with no outs in the eighth inning of Game 5, stranded both, then tossed a scoreless ninth to close out the win after Altuve's homer. That was a clutch relief outing. Pressly has thrown four scoreless innings in the ALCS overall.

4. Adolis García, Rangers. Garcia's titanic three-run home run in Game 5 went for naught, though he is 5 for 18 (.278) with two home runs and 5 RBI in the ALCS. Similar to Marte on the NL side, it's hard to imagine the Rangers making a comeback in the ALCS without García being right in the middle of it. He's been great so far and Texas needs him to be great again in Game 6 and, they hope, Game 7.

5. Alex Bregman, Astros. Bregman is only 4 for 19 (.211) in the ALCS, two his two-run triple opened the scoring in Game 4 and his solo homer opened the scoring in Game 5. Both were statement hits that gave the Astros control of the game in the first inning, and put the Rangers behind before they even came to the plate.

Honorable mention: Jordan Montgomery and Nathan Eovaldi, Rangers. The Texas co-aces have combined to allow five runs in 17 2/3 innings in their three starts. Eovaldi gets the ball in Game 6 and will need to turn in a dominant performance to force a Game 7. If he does that, and if the Rangers manage to win the series, Eovaldi very well could take home ALCS MVP honors.