On this very website last year, a couple of weeks into the season, I told you to take Shohei Othani at +1200 to win the AL MVP. If you followed, you made some nice money. If you didn’t let’s try and make it two years in a row that we hit the MVP winner.
In the AL, your value on Ohtani is a little low for me, so I won’t play it. He is now +360 to win. Arguably, he could be the MVP every season because he pitches and hits. He could actually be a better pitcher this year too and if he replicates his hitting from last year, there will be another strong case for him getting the MVP again. Voters do get fatigued, and he now has his own teammate, WAR machine Mike Trout, to compete against. In my opinion, it is unlikely, but at least possible, that he wins two years in a row. If I had to bet on three players, here is my order:
Here is the reasoning. Guerrero Jr. almost beat Othani for it last year and Othani had a ridiculous campaign. I think that you’re looking at a hitter that is as good as his Hall of Fame father and he is entering what will be the prime of his career on a team that is poised to compete. At +500 he is too much to pass up. I think this could drop if he gets off to a slow start, but if he comes out hot, watch out.
Mike Trout is the best player in baseball… if he stays healthy. That “if” statement follows him so much, but for the past four or five years, Trout has been the MVP favorite. This is the first time I feel like we are getting value on this guy. Last year, before injury, I think the best I saw him at was somewhere in the +200’s. I’m going to grab a ticket on him because if he is healthy, he should be in the running and 5:1 odds are pretty good for a guy that is compared to Mickey Mantle and other greats.
Tim Anderson is not a guy you’d typically think of, but I think he can lead the league in hits and average, and lead the White Sox to the first overall seed in the American League. It is a complete longshot, and I wouldn’t do more than a half unit on him. He could lose because he likely won’t have gaudy power numbers or some other things, but he is very talented and I think is worth a consideration.
In the National League, the race was much more wide open for most of the season. It probably will be the same here, so I’m going to play the National League a bit more cautious. I will start by saying I don’t like Harper to repeat. I don’t think Freddie Freeman takes it his first year in LA, and Fernando Tatis is starting on the injured list, and he might not be back until June. He likely will give better odds and need to have an absolutely mammoth shortened season in order to win.
Here are three guys I’d consider:
Let us start with Betts here. Betts is still one of the most talented guys in the league. He is also on arguably the most talented roster. What he provides to his team is close to unmatched. He is a perennial MVP candidate and someone that still has some prime years to put up some of his best numbers. He is +950 to win, so the value is there to me. This isn’t how I perceive value, but Betts is easily one of the 10 best players in the league. If half of them are considered for MVP this year, Betts probably should be one of them. So, that cuts it down to +500 instead of +950. I’ll take a ticket on him just in case he starts strong. I can always sell it if needed if I think it won’t last a full season.
Nolan Arenado is one of the best players in the game as well. I think that he has a big year in St. Louis and that the Cardinals should make the playoffs. A lot of that will be due to him. Plus, he gets to face the Pirates and Reds pitching staff like 30 times this year, so he should have plenty of opportunities to make a difference with the bat. Will he win? Maybe, maybe not, but at +2700 it is worth it to grab now.
Matt Olson might be my favorite play. He is replacing Freddie Freeman which is not an easy thing to do. He has been great out in Oakland, but no one knows that, because, well, it is Oakland. Now, he will be surrounded by the best team he has probably ever been on. He should get more pitches to hit. And, if he was mashing what he got thrown with little protection in the lineup, he should, in theory, be able to kill the pitching here. He will likely also want to get out to a hot start to make the sting of losing Freeman easier, that could lead to him pressing a bit, but we will see. Either way, I’m grabbing him at +2400.
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