Young Star and Proven Vet Worth Investing in for AL, NL MVP Futures

mookie betts

Rainman M.

Friday, March 23, 2018 12:24 PM GMT

Friday, Mar. 23, 2018 12:24 PM GMT

The MLB season begins Thursday, and a lot of star players can still be bought at plus value to win MVP. Mookie Betts in the AL and Joey Votto in the NL look like promising picks.

AL MVP Odds
  • Mike Trout +130
  • Jose Altuve +600
  • Carlos Correa +1000
  • Giancarlo Stanton +1200
  • Francisco Lindor +1200
  • Aaron Judge +1800
  • Josh Donaldson +2000
  • Mookie Betts +2000
  • Manny Machado +2500
  • J.D. Martinez +2500
  • Jose Ramirez +3000
  • Gary Sanchez +3000

The Angels' Trout deservedly sits atop the MLB oddsboard. He won AL MVP in 2014 and 2016 and one can always rely on him to achieve a .300+ BA and .550+ slugging (the average slugging tends to be about .420). Judge is tempting at +1800 considering his high profile and insane 50+ home run performance to earn him the 2017 AL Rookie of the Year award. Nothing against Altuve (last year's AL MVP), Correa and Stanton (last year's NL MVP), but I am ruling them out for the sake of variety. Only two players have received back-to-back MVP awards in the past 25 years. That a winner's teammate gets the award the following year is nearly as unlikely. Toronto's Donaldson is always a power threat but doesn't seem likely to revitalize his BA to where it was in his 2015 AL MVP season.

Voters value variety and a high profile. Playing on a winning team can only help. So with this in mind, let's look at two high value options.

Lindor finished fifth in last year's voting and may look like a tempting pick because of his surge in home runs. The young Cleveland shortstop seems to be trying to reinvent himself as more of a power hitter. His markedly divergent ratio of ground balls to fly balls indicates a flux in his mechanics. So he still has a lot to work out, like recovering his BA. Also, he ranked among the leaders in ratio of fewest non-pulled home runs, which based on a survey of similar batters who hit 25+ home runs indicates that he is statistically due for regression in power.

The Red Sox's Betts is another young stud who can steal 20+ bases, win Gold Gloves, hit 20+ home runs in addition to batting over .300. Betts had a down 2017 year (which didn't stop him from being among the leaders in MVP votes received) caused by a lot of bad luck, which is why I think he is due to return to his norm. His BABIP (batting average of balls in play) dropped significantly last year, meaning that despite typically making good contact with solid exit velocity balls unfortunately weren't landing for hits as often. But Betts' fundamental improvement in other areas makes him an appealing pick as we expect his BABIP and BA to resurge. Betts drew walks a career-high 10.8% of the time. Part of that was due to the absence of David Ortiz. But he also did a better job of laying off pitches outside the strike zone. With the addition of J.D. Martinez, expect Betts to be pitched to more frequently and therefore have more opportunities to capitalize on his upside.

Free MLB Pick: Betts +2000Best Lines Offered Both: Bovada

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NL MVP Odds
  • Bryce Harper +300
  • Kris Bryant +400
  • Nolan Arenado +500
  • Paul Goldschmidt +800
  • Joey Votto +900
  • Cody Bellinger +1200
  • Corey Seager +1500
  • Anthony Rizzo +1800
  • Freddie Freeman +1800
  • Charlie Blackmon +2500
  • Clayton Kershaw +3000

At +900, bettors will, in the worst case scenario, get a fighting chance with Votto who, every year since 2015, has finished in the top seven in MVP voting. Last year, he finished second. Votto has finished with a BA above .310 and slugging above .540 in each of the past three years. The Reds first baseman is still making significant strides. He is seeing the plate much better, dropping his strikeout rate to 11.7% while his walk rate climbed to 19% last year. Votto is swinging at pitches outside the zone and swinging-and-missing less frequently, while being more aggressive with pitches inside the zone and achieving 36 home runs. The Reds are a bad team, but this isn't damning: the Marlins had a losing record last year and the Angels did in 2016 but each team still produced an MVP in that respective year. Votto is a well-known player, and his improvement even in his late years creates promising upside.

Votto is the most trustworthy player. The Nationals' Harper is wildly inconsistent from year-to-year and the Cubs' Bryant is unpredictable as well. Arenado is a Rockie and fans tend to write off Rockies because they play in such a hitters' park. The last Rockie to win NL MVP was in 1997. Arizona's Goldschmidt plays in possibly just as strong of a hitters park and is a disaster on the road. Last season, his BA was .46 lower and his slugging .150 lower away from Chase Field. The Dodgers duo is talented, but Seager has concerns with his elbow. Bellinger, though a great power hitter, is statistically due for some regression in the area based on his exit velocity numbers last season in certain pitch locations. The 2017 NL Rookie of the Year also doesn't hit for average well.

Free MLB Pick: Votto +900
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