With the MLB regular season rapidly approaching, bettors have their last chances to place futures bets before hot or cold starts quickly change the odds for baseball’s most prized individual trophy.
Cody Bellinger had a breakout campaign in 2019 to edge out Christian Yelich in the National League. Bellinger continued to showcase that taking a chance on a young player who hasn’t put it all together isn’t a bad idea as Yelich showed the year before.
Mookie Betts has immediately become the favorite to win the NL MVP after coming over by trade to the Dodgers. DraftKings Sportsbook has him at +550 to capture his second MVP after winning with the Red Sox in 2018. Betts’ production dropped off in 2019, but he still hit .295 with 29 home runs and 6.6 fWAR.
Cody Bellinger sits at +700 currently on DraftKings to defend his MVP trophy. The idea of two teammates battling it out for an MVP is interesting, but it could certainly happen on the loaded Dodgers. Bellinger belted 47 homes runs with a .406 OBP and 7.8 fWAR last year.
Christian Yelich also comes in with +700 odds on DraftKings after impressively increasing his production from his 2018 MVP season but coming up just short of Bellinger to repeat. He hit .329 with 44 home runs and 30 stolen bases while amassing 7.8 fWAR in 2019.
Ronald Acuna is +1000 to grab his first MVP trophy after breaking out as a 21-year-old in 2019. He finished just shy of a 40-40 season with 41 home runs and 37 stolen bases, but ultimately his .365 OBP set him back from competing with Yelich and Bellinger.
Juan Soto rounds out the top 5 at +1000 as another young star with a chance to get an MVP. The 21-yard-old had an impressive .401 OBP with 34 home runs in 2019. If he can produce any sort of positive defensive value, he has a great chance to make a run for the MVP.
Value plays for NL MVP
Of the favorites, Yelich and Acuna feel like the smartest plays for a few reasons. With the Dodgers so loaded in talent, avoiding both of their frontrunners feels like a good move as production could be spread out in their lineup. Not to mention, an individual like Yelich or Acuna leading their team to the playoffs could be a narrative against the Dodgers players not being as “valuable” because of how good they’d be with or without him. Yelich and Acuna were both let loose on the base paths last season which adds to their value. Acuna also put together positive value on defense. Yelich, meanwhile, has had two consecutive negative years in the field, which still feels like an outlier for someone with his talent defensively. If they can both lead their teams to the postseason, produce at a similar level offensively, and improve in the field, they should be set up to have a legitimate claim at the MVP.
Looking a bit further down the list, another former NL MVP sticks out to me with his odds. Kris Bryant (+2500) won the MVP in 2016 in his second year as a 24-year-old. He hit .292 with 39 home runs while playing great defense at third base. That production drastically fell off through 2018 when he had an injury-riddled disappointment of a year with just 2.3 fWAR. Bryant seemed to be getting back to his old ways in the first half of 2019 when he had 28 doubles, 17 home runs and hit .297 before the All-Star Break. But a letdown of a second half along with most of the Cubs dropped him way back. If Bryant can sustain the form he had early in 2019, he still has plenty of talent to get an MVP.