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MLB Opening Day is Thursday so it’s time to lock in my season-long bets and predictions. Granted, it’s cutting close but most of these odds will stay the same until mid-April.
Below, I’ll give out my bets and picks for the MVP and Cy Young for both leagues and several leaders for the biggest stat categories. I skipped over the Rookie of the Year award races because, frankly, those are crapshoots.
MLB 2023 Award Winners & Stat Leaders
- Odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
- Historic odds courtesy of SportsOddsHistory.com.
American League MVP
- 2022: Aaron Judge, New York Yankees (+2000)
- 2021: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (+3000)
- 2020: Jose Abreu, Chicago White Sox (N/A)
- 2019: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels (+125)
- 2018: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox (+2500)
As long as he is doing double duty, this award is Ohtani’s to lose. It’s weird to say this so confidently but Shohei Ohtani is the best baseball player ever.
Ohtani is a heavy favorite to win AL MVP at +190. He hit the 2nd-most home runs in the AL last season (37) and the 3rd-best WAR of any AL pitcher.
To be honest, it wouldn’t be the most ridiculous logic to bet both Ohtani and Trout and be done with the AL MVP market. But that’s no fun.
I’m high on the Cleveland Guardians this season so I’m sprinkling on 3B Jose Ramirez (+1500) to win the AL MVP. Ramirez is a five-tool player that has flown under the radar for years.
Since the beginning of last season, Ramirez is 2nd behind Judge in WAR for hitters and 8th in both wRC+ and wOBA, according to FanGraphs.
He is 6th in BB/K rate, 5th in both ISO and stolen bases, and 10th in contact rate as well. These metrics give me confidence that Ramirez’s numbers could improve in 2023.
The banning of the shift will help a contact hitter like Ramirez, the larger bases and limited pick-off attempts help a base stealer like Ramirez. His patience at the plate could flummox pitchers who are now on a pitch clock.
Seattle Mariners acquired OF Teoscar Hernández (+7000) from the Toronto Blue Jays this offseason to bolster its lineup. Since 2021, Hernández is 15th in the AL for wRC+, 13th in wOBA and 19th in WAR, per FanGraphs.
His predictive metrics are astounding as well. Last season, Hernández was 4th in the AL in hard-hit rate and 7th in both barrels per plate appearance and average exit velocity, according to Statcast.
Hernández should have plenty of RBI opportunities with stud CF Julio Rodriguez and 1B Ty France ahead of him in the order. Also, Hernández has a slugger behind him for protection, 3B Eugenio Suarez.
It’s a long-shot for a reason but there is a world where Hernández hits 40 home runs, 100+ RBI and the Mariners win the AL West. If that happens, this ticket might be a good one to have in the portfolio come October.
National League MVP
- 2022: Paul Goldschmidt, St. Louis Cardinals (+6600)
- 2021: Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies (+1700)
- 2020: Freddie Freeman, Atlanta Braves (+2500)
- 2019: Cody Bellinger, Los Angeles Dodgers (+3000)
- 2018: Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers (+15000)
I already gave out San Diego Padres OF Juan Soto (+550) to win the 2023 NL MVP earlier this spring along with some bets on him to lead the MLB in various stats.
My pick and only bet to win this award is Soto but St. Louis Cardinals 3B Nolan Arenado at +1400 is another good look. First of all, Arenado is a generational 3B and has won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves.
Arenado is 4th in the NL for RBI over the past two seasons, 13th in both wRC+ and wOBA, 7th in ISO and 11th in BB/K rate. He had a career-best 151 wRC+ last season hitting behind Goldschmidt.
American League Cy Young
- 2022: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros (+2000)
- 2021: Robbie Ray, Toronto Blue Jays (N/A)
- 2020: Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians (+900)
- 2019: Justin Verlander, Houston Astros (+1500)
- 2018: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays (+10000)
Included in my love-fest for the Guardians was a sprinkle on Cleveland starting RHP Triston McKenzie to win AL Cy Young at +3000, which is down to +2200.
That said, Tampa Bay Rays starting LHP Shane McClanahan is my favorite AL pitcher (+1200). McClanahan is 2nd in the AL among starters for swinging-strike rate since 2021, 18th in chase rate, 9th in WAR and 3rd in xFIP.
In order for McClanahan to win this award, the Rays need to get back into the playoffs, McClanahan has to win around 15 games with a sub-3.00 ERA and be in the top-five of strikeouts. All of which is doable.
For the record, my official pick to win this award is New York Yankees Gerrit Cole because he has the production, stuff, team and media market in the AL.
National League Cy Young
- 2022: Sandy Alcantara, Miami Marlins (+2000)
- 2021: Corbin Burnes, Milwaukee Brewers (+3500)
- 2020: Trevor Bauer, Cincinnati Reds (+2500)
- 2019: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (+350)
- 2018: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets (+2500)
Atlanta Braves starting RHP Spencer Strider‘s (+950) stuff is outrageously good. Strider led the NL in 2022 for K/9, FIP and swinging-strike rate and was 5th in home runs per 9 and 3rd in contact rate.
According to Statcast, Strider graded in the 96% of both expected wOBA and slugging percentage and the 97% in both expected batting average and fastball velocity.
If the Braves are a contender in the NL, Strider’s strikeout numbers equal last season’s and he pitches at least 175 innings, Strider should take this award home.
Dodgers starting LHP Julio Urias (+2000) is one of the most underrated starters in MLB. Urias has by far the most wins in the NL over the past two seasons: 20 in 2021 and 17 in 2022.
The next closest guy to Urias’s 37 wins is Braves LHP Max Fried at 28. Urias is LAD’s Opening Day starter and gets better in the fall. Post-All-Star break, Urias has a 22-2 career record with a 1.79 ERA and 1.03 WHIP.
Urias is 9th in both WAR and ERA for the NL since the beginning of last season and 14th in K-BB%. Between his late-season production and increased role in the Dodgers’ rotation, Urias could steal the NL Cy Young in October.
Home Run Leader
Pick: Houston Astros DH Yordan Alvarez (+1000).
Per Statcast, Alvarez had the 2nd-highest exit velocity in 2022, 2nd-most barrels per plate appearance (behind Judge) and 7th-best sweet-spot rate.
Alvarez ranked behind only Judge in the major for slugging percentage, OPS, ISO and wRC+, according to FanGraphs.
Pick: New York Yankees RHP Gerrit Cole (+500).
He’s led MLB in strikeouts in two of the last four season (2019 and 2022) and was 2nd in 2021. Cole hasn’t spent significant time injured since 2016 and has pitched at least 200 innings in five of his last eight seasons.
Pick: Toronto Blue Jays 1B/DH Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (+900).
Guerrero led the MLB in home runs in 2021 (48) and led the AL in OBP, slugging and OPS. He has two awesome hitters in front of him in George Springer and Bo Bichette that should give Guerrero plenty of RBI opportunities.
Pick: Los Angeles Dodgers LHP Julio Urias (+1500).
Again, all this guy does is win. The Dodgers have a 95.5 regular-season win total and Urias is their No. 1 starter. Urias should get some easy wins vs. the Rockies and Giants, neither of whom will be any good in 2023.
Pick: Cleveland Guardians RHP Emmanuel Clase (+600).
The Guardians don’t have the offense to be regularly blowing teams out so Clase will be counted on to close out a lot of their wins.
Clase led MLB in saves last season (42) and appearances (77) and has some of the best stuff in baseball. Per Statcast, Clase grades in the 90% or better in exit velocity, barrel rate, chase rate, BB% and fastball velocity.
In 2022, Clase led major league relievers in ERA and home runs per 9. He was 2nd among relievers behind New York Mets closer Edwin Diaz for WAR and FIP.
Other 2023 MLB betting previews
BUYING STOCK IN THE CLEVELAND GUARDIANS MLB 2023 FUTURE MARKETS
BETTING ROGUE SAN DIEGO PADRES’ JUAN SOTO FUTURE ODDS
METS WILL END THE BRAVES NL EAST WINNING STREAK IN 2023
BACK THE BREW CREW TO WIN THE 2023 NL CENTRAL
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