The MLB season is just weeks away now. Last year, we had a very unconventional, but exciting season. Though the season was cut drastically short, the playoffs featured the largest field in history and was full of drama and excitement.
This season, the plan is to roll back to the pre-2020 format, but the MLB is leaving the option open for another large playoff field.
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MLB futures are not easy
For our MVP analysis, we have decided to go with four options to choose from and three guys we are definitely ruling out. With so many players contending for a handful of awards, and the volatility of player performance on a year-to-year basis, MLB futures picks are often dart throws.
Even when picking teams, the results often don’t reflect the preseason predictions the same way they do in leagues like the NBA. Baseball is the kind of sport where a Double-A team could beat a Major League team once or twice out of every ten games, which could never happen with any other major sports leagues. This is why betting baseball can be very challenging, but also why you can get such good odds.
When you look back on MVPs in baseball, the past winners are either triple crown candidates or five-tool players with heavy contributions in the four major offensive categories.
Off the bat, that’s going to eliminate a few options for the award. Some guys just aren’t ready for the award, while others don’t really jump off the paper. Second, players who hit under .300 don’t usually win this award, so that eliminates a lot of guys.
Since 1990, there have been 62 league MVP awards given and only six (three in the AL and three in the NL) have batted under .300. In those cases, the winner either hit a massive number of home runs and RBIs, or hit a good amount of home runs and RBIs and stole a lot of bases.
Foul ballplayers: Avoid these guys for MVP
When taking a look at the odds for the MVP race, we turn to the DraftKings Online Sportsbook.
For the American League players near the top I’m crazy about, the first is Alex Bregman at +1000. Bregman has the second-best odds in the AL for MVP and it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.
Sure, guys can have down years, but it seems like there may be both validity and vindication with Bregman’s 2020 campaign. He hit .242 with six home runs last season, which doesn’t show a lot of promise for him reaching that critical .300 line. There’s also a factor of whether or not voters will go with a Houston Astros player in MVP voting, given the results of the investigation into their scandal. Steer clear of this one.
Next on the list is Anthony Rendon at +1500. Rendon is an OBP king. No matter what his output is in a given week, he always seems to get on base and he did that at a tremendous clip of .418 in 2019.
Unfortunately for Rendon, he has three things working against him. First off, he’s playing for the Angels, where Mike Trout had to literally play out of his mind just to win two MVPs, when he should have four.
Second, he isn’t likely to dominate any one particular category. He hit 34 bombs and drove in 126 runs in 2019, but that season stands out as a huge outlier for his career. Rendon can certainly get close in this award like in 2019, but he just lacks the wow factor, and that matters when we’re talking MVPs.
The last guy I’m completely out on is Matt Chapman +1500. Chapman plays for Oakland, first and foremost. That’s issue number one. Because it’s Oakland, he’s likely not going to drive in a lot of runs. His career-high is only 91 RBI. He’s coming off the short season in 2020 but managed 36 HRs in 2019, so that’s the good news. Unfortunately, he batted .232 in 2020 and .249 in 2019 (his best year).
He offers no upside for base stealing, so he’s going to need to have an absolute monster season from BA, HR, and RBIs. I think he’s a bad bet this season, especially for the guy with the fifth-best odds in the American League.
Fair Ballplayers: AL MVP (Best Odds)
Eloy Jimenez +3000 to win AL MVP
Eloy Jimenez is the forgotten candidate in this whole race. He’s currently got the 14th best odds for the AL MVP. Jimenez has worse odds than three others on his own team (Moncada, Abreu, Robert). Last year, Jimenez was overshadowed by both Abreu and Robert, even though he put up amazing numbers (.296, 14 HRs, 41 RBI).
Jimenez is only 24 and in his first season (2019), went .267 with 31 HRs and 79 RBI on 468 ABs. Given the strength of this lineup, Jimenez should see an insane amount of both good pitches and runners in scoring position. If Jimenez takes another step forward this year, we could see him as a finalist for the MVP.
As it stands right now, he should realistically finish around .290 with 35+ HRs and 100+ RBI. With those kinds of numbers, he’s firmly in the conversation and has the perfect environment to help you cash a longshot bet.
Bo Bichette +3300
We all remember Dante Bichette on those mid-90s Rockies teams. Right now, Bo is trying to put together a full season to emerge from his dad’s shadow.
In 2019, Bichette hit .311 with 11 HRs on just 196 ABs. Last year, Bichette hit .301 with 5 HRs on 123 ABs. With a full season, he could go .300 with close to 40 HRs and 100 RBI.
Is it realistic? I think if you’re looking at his numbers over the first two seasons, it’s clear a line like that is very possible. For the money, this is an extremely good value play for a guy who, like Jimenez, is on a good offense and should see plenty of good pitches and RBI opportunities.
George Springer +3000
Springer is now free of the stain that was the Houston Astros organization. He’s moved on to Toronto, where he’s going to join a loaded offense that includes Vlad Guerrero Jr, Bo Bichette, Teoscar Hernandez, and Randal Grichuk.
He’s in the perfect offense for an MVP candidate and has the track record to be a guy considered for this award. Springer had a .292 average, with 39 HRs and 96 RBI in 2019 on only 479 ABs.
If he can find that form again, within a lineup this potent, Springer will be another very strong candidate for the MVP. Before you concern yourself too much with his age, just remember, Jose Abreu is older than Springer and won the award last year.
Check back with us next week for the NL MVP Discussion and odds.