The various sportsbooks have yet to release MLB odds on the major player awards for the upcoming season, but it should be very soon. Instead of waiting on them, I will project whom I believe the favorites will be on those props.
American League MVP
This one's easy. It's going to be Angels outfielder Mike Trout, the reigning AL MVP. He finished second in the voting to Detroit's Miguel Cabrera in 2012 & 13 before finally breaking through last year. Actually, Trout's 2014 season wasn't quite as good as his first two. Still pretty great numbers: .287 (career low for full season), 36 homers, 111 RBIs (both career highs) and 16 steals (career low). His wins above replacement number was 7.9, compared to 9.2 in 2013 and 10.7 in his '12 rookie year. Pitchers did seem to figure Trout out a bit last season as he struck out 184 times, by far his most. Trout, still just 23, became the fifth-youngest winner of an MVP award and the youngest to win in a unanimous vote. Trout was the first AL MVP to win by unanimous vote since Seattle's Ken Griffey Jr. in 1997.
Cabrera will be the second-favorite after finishing a distant ninth in the voting a year ago. Cabrera seemed to be battling injuries much of 2014 and did have offseason ankle surgery. He still managed to play 159 games but his .313 averages was his worst since 2008 (first year with Tigers), and his 25 homers were his worst since his second season in 2004 as were his 109 RBIs. Might he be breaking down at age 32 (in April)? Considering what Detroit owes him on that contract, the team better hope not. It's likely that White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, the unanimous 2014 AL Rookie of the Year, is the third favorite.
MLB Early Pick: Take Toronto's Jose Bautista with your MLB Picks.
National League MVP
While Trout could repeat as AL MVP, I'm here to guarantee you that the NL won't have a repeat winner. Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw won the award last year, the first pitcher to win NL MVP since Cardinals legend Bob Gibson in 1968. As good as Kershaw is, no pitcher is going to win back-to-back MVPs. Some voters don't even like to cast their MVP ballots for pitchers, believing that the Cy Young is reward enough. I'll be curious to see where Kershaw is on the MLB Odds.
The favorite should be Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton. He finished second to Kershaw last year and might have won the award if not for getting beaned in the face by a pitch and missing the final three weeks or so. Stanton led the NL with 37 home runs (he would have hit 40 if not for the injury) and was second to the Dodgers' Adrian Gonzalez with 105 RBIs. The Marlins are a chic playoff pick this season and MVP voters love guys on playoff teams.
Pittsburgh's Andrew McCutchen, the 2013 MVP winner, Arizona's Paul Goldschmidt, Washington's Bryce Harper, the Dodgers' Yasiel Puig and Cubs' Anthony Rizzo should also be among the betting favorites in MLB Futures Odds trading right now at sportsbooks. It's a deeper field than the AL.
MLB Early Pick: Harper.
AL Cy Young
I was fairly shocked that Cleveland's Corey Kluber edged Seattle's Felix Hernandez for the 2014 Cy Young Award. Most casual fans couldn't have told you who Kluber was entering the season. He was deserving, going 18-9 with a 2.44 ERA and 269 strikeouts in 235 2/3 innings. Kluber led the league in wins, finished second in strikeouts, third in innings pitched and was third in ERA.
Hernandez finished a close second and will be your favorite. King Felix went 15-6 with an AL-leading 2.14 ERA and 248 strikeouts in 236 innings. He also set an MLB record when he pitched 16 straight games of seven or more innings and allowing two earned runs or fewer.
Two lefties, Chicago's Chris Sale (who will miss the first week of the season due to a broken foot) and Detroit's David Price, will round out the favorites.
MLB Early Pick: Hernandez.
NL Cy Young
This is the easiest prop on the board as the Dodgers' Kershaw will be the heavy favorite after winning his third Cy Young in the past four years in 2014. Kershaw, the unanimous winner, is the sixth pitcher to win three Cy Young Awards in a four-year span since the award was first given in 1956. Despite missing a month, the lefty went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA, leading the majors in wins and ERA (again). Now if Kershaw can just figure out the Cardinals in the playoffs.
Washington will have three guys among the favorites behind Kershaw: new addition Max Scherzer, the winner of the 2013 AL Cy Young with Detroit, Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg. Zimmermann could have a monster season as he will become a free agent after the year. Ditto the Reds' Johnny Cueto, who was second to Kershaw a year ago. The Cardinals' Adam Wainwright (already some injury concerns), Giants World Series hero Madison Bumgarner and new Cubs ace Jon Lester should round out the favorites.
MLB Early Pick: Lester.