For the second straight offseason, a legitimate MVP candidate was traded to the National League. The first was Mookie Betts, who went from the Boston Red Sox to the Los Angeles Dodgers prior to the 2020 season. The second is Francisco Lindor, who went from the Cleveland “Enjoy Him” Indians to the New York Mets, who actually have a chance at locking up one of baseball’s brightest smiling faces to an extension.
Betts is the favorite to take down the Most Valuable Player Award in the Senior Circuit and Lindor is one of four players tied for the fifth choice according to DraftKings Sportsbook.
Betting on the MVP is something of a crapshoot to a degree, but there are some benchmarks that pretty much have to be hit annually in order to have a good chance at impressing the voters enough to win.
Being on a good team helps. Giancarlo Stanton won the 2017 MVP for the Miami Marlins, who actually had a losing record, but Stanton hit 59 home runs that season. Bryce Harper won it in 2015 for the Washington Nationals, who came up short. Prior to that, you have to go back to Albert Pujols in 2008 for a player that won the NL MVP and fell short of the postseason.
Shy of Mike Trout in the AL, it is a much more common occurrence for the MVP to have made the playoffs. National League voters seem a little more forgiving.
As always, you want to shop around for the best odds on any and all player and team futures. We’re trying to put out a US-facing sportsbook available to most bettors, but there are offshore markets and other avenues to wager on these things. Just make sure you try to find the best odds on the player you’d like to bet.
NL MVP Odds
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||-145||-150||-170||-150|
|Fernando Tatis Jr||-170||-159|
|J T Realmuto||+15000||+20000|
NL MVP Picks & Prediction
For me, there are a handful of rules of thumb. The first is the good team thing I mentioned already. The second is that you need the ability to stand out. Splitting votes with a teammate will usually make things harder. When Cody Bellinger won in 2019, there were no other Dodgers in the top 14 of the voting. Anthony Rendon finished third and Juan Soto finished ninth. The Braves had three guys in the top 11 in Ronald Acuna Jr., Freddie Freeman, and Josh Donaldson. You have to stand out above your teammates.
Another rule of thumb is to be a position player. Clayton Kershaw won the NL MVP in 2014. He was the first NL pitcher since Bob Gibson in 1968 to win the award. Sandy Koufax won in 1963 and Don Newcombe in 1956. Don’t bet on a pitcher. If it happens, so be it, but it probably won’t.
Juan Soto (+750)
All of the short prices are really good candidates. Juan Soto is probably the one that has the best chance to me. The +750 price makes him a co-favorite with Mookie Betts, but Soto started last season by battling COVID and then posted a 201 wRC+. That means that he more than doubled the league average offensive performance. He only played in 47 games and finished ninth in fWAR. Only Mike Yastrzemski played fewer than 55 games of the players ahead of him in that stat. Yaz got a big boost offensively because Oracle Park regularly plays as a pitcher’s park, but it did not last season.
Freddie Freeman wound up winning the MVP and certainly deserved it. He led the NL in fWAR and posted the second-highest wRC+ behind Soto’s. Freeman’s Braves made the playoffs. Soto’s Nationals did not. I’m sure that was part of the equation.
Soto should shine for a team that doesn’t have great playoff prospects, but I’m expecting regression from Trea Turner, so if the Nationals do make some noise, Soto will be front, center, and basically everywhere else that is visible. There may be a lot of Mike Trout here in the profile in that he could shine and be the best player in his respective league for a team that falls short of the postseason. That has hurt Trout before, but I don’t think it will hurt Soto. People take for granted how good Trout is. I’m not sure Soto is at that point yet.
Soto checks all of the boxes. He walks. He hits for average. He hits for power. You really need to fill up all of the categories, so one-dimensional power guys with low averages are going to be hard sells. You need balanced production.
Manny Machado (+2200)
As far as some others to consider, I’d look at Manny Machado at +2200. Obviously Fernando Tatis Jr. has grabbed all of the headlines this season with his mega contract. This is one area where I do worry about the sharing of votes and the sharing of the spotlight, but Tatis is +850 and Machado is +2200.
Machado struck out less than 15% of the time last season, so he has the chance to post a high average. He should hit for power. He’ll be on a very good team. His defense is a weapon at an important defensive position. If you ask me where the two guys end up at season’s end, I could see a scenario in which Machado has better numbers.
I normally don’t dabble a ton in these markets because they are subjective and are voted on by reporters with agendas and biases, but Soto and Machado are the two guys I’ll be looking the closest at for NL MVP.