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National League MVP Predictions & Handicapping Insight
Though Anthony Rendon made a push at the end of the regular season and ultimately got the last laugh with a World Series, last year’s National League MVP race came down to two guys: Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich.
Bellinger won out with the voters. He scored and drove in more runs, hit a few more homers and his team won more games. The voters may have also given Bellinger the nod in a close race after giving the award to Yelich the year before.
This season, Yelich is favored over Bellinger but both guys are listed after another pair of outfielders: Ronald Acuna Jr and Mookie Betts.
I can understand the market’s allure with both guys. Acuna nearly became the fifth member of baseball’s 40-40 Club as a 21-year-old last season. Betts will be provided the benefit Bellinger had last year of playing for the Dodgers.
But I’m passing on both and instead starting with the guy who should have won it for a second-straight season in 2019.
2020 NL MVP Futures Betting Odds – Christian Yelich +700
Yelich was even better in 2019 than he was in 2018. He posted higher on-base and slugging percentages and was the only man in baseball to finish ahead of the American League’s Mike Trout in OPS.
But while Trout is anywhere from -110 to +125 to win the AL MVP, Yelich remains relatively cheap in the NL at +700.
Some of that has to do with the team he plays for; the Brewers won’t win as many games as the Dodgers or Braves. Some of it has to do with Acuna, Betts and Bellinger all being younger than he is.
Neither is purely negative, though. The Brewers may not make the playoffs but if they do, Yelich will stand out as their best player. Bellinger, Betts and others will share the spotlight in Los Angeles and even Freddie Freeman and Acuna may compete for votes in Atlanta.
Yelich may not still be ascending, like many suspect Acuna is, but he’s just 28 and firmly in his prime. Two seasons in a row with an OPS of 1.000 should have Yelich the preseason favorite.
2020 NL MVP Futures Betting Odds – Juan Soto +900
Yelich is my biggest investment but if he doesn’t go 1-2-1 in three consecutive years, perhaps it’s because another outfielder from the NL East even younger than Acuna comes back for an encore following his dazzling postseason performance en route to a World Series Title.
Juan Soto feels accurately priced at +900 but he isn’t a bad buy after posting a 142 OPS+ as a 20-year-old and 138 in an even fuller season at 21 last year.
I worry how much difference it will make not to have Anthony Rendon hitting in front of him and whether he has enough protection behind him but Soto may have also earned himself something extra with the voters after what he did last year. After all, he deserved more than a ninth-place finish.
2020 NL MVP Futures Betting Odds – Anthony Rizzo +5000
Anthony Rizzo is a damn good player. He’s missed an average of less than eight games per season over the last five years and consistently posted OPS+ numbers between 130 and 150.
He has a stellar glove at first base and will play an even bigger role as the Cubs’ clubhouse leader with Joe Maddon gone. He’s being undersold at 50-1.
2020 NL MVP Futures Betting Odds via BetOnline
- Ronald Acuna Jr +550
- Mookie Betts +600
- Christian Yelich +700
- Cody Bellinger +900
- Juan Soto +900
- Fernando Tatis Jr +1000
- Bryce Harper +1400
- Ketel Marte +1600
- Nolan Arenado +1600
- Freddie Freeman +2000
- Javier Baez +2000
- Eugenio Suarez +2500
- Kris Bryant +2500
- Manny Machado +2500
- Paul Goldschmidt +2500
- Peter Alonso +2500
- Trevor Story +2500
- Jacob DeGrom +3300
- Max Scherzer +3300
- Rhys Hoskins +3300
- Corey Seager +4000
- Anthony Rizzo +5000
- Odds via BetOnline
- March 30th 2020
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