With Spring Training about to start, DraftKings Sportsbook has posted National League MVP odds. The biggest news of the offseason was Mookie Betts finally being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers and the odds are pretty high on his chances to take home the award. Where do his new teammates fit into the odds and who else has a chance to take home the hardware?
Betts is the favorite to win MVP at +550. If he wins, he would have the rare accolade of winning the trophy in both league. Mookie was the American League MVP in 2018 after he posted a career-best 10.4 WAR season. While still good last season, Betts took a bit of a step back, finishing with 6.6 WAR. Playing in a contract year, he’s going to have plenty of motivation although there are some reasons to be concerned that he won’t get back to the same level of play from his MVP season. Betts stole a career-low 16 bases last season and was much less valuable on defense than we have seen from him in recent seasons. These are both slight red flags of aging and he’s also going to be playing in Dodger Stadium, which is a pitcher’s park. Mookie is a great upgrade for the Dodgers’ offense and should have a strong season, but the odds don’t offer much value.
Right behind Betts, Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich are tied for the next best odds to win MVP (+700). Bellinger was last year’s winner, while Yelich was the runner up after winning the award in 2018. Of these two, I am a little more drawn to Yelich. If the Dodgers are great (which they almost certainly will be), there could be a situation where Bellinger and Betts steal votes from each other. A big season from Yelich is going to be needed for the Milwaukee Brewers to make a postseason run. Last season, Yelich was worth 7.8 WAR, which was more than Betts and tied with Bellinger, despite a late injury limiting him to 130 games played.
There are some risks to betting on Nolan Arenado to win the MVP at +2000. Most notably, he appears to be unhappy with the Colorado Rockies and could be traded during the season. Playing outside of Coors Field would hurt his counting stats and being traded to the American League would obviously kill his chances to win the NL award. The good news is that he’s priced way down because of these narratives. Arenado is typically near the top of the preseason MVP odds and has been a model of consistency in Colorado. Not only is he one of the league’s best defensive players, Arenado has hit at least 37 homers in five straight seasons.
Prior to the start of last season, Bryce Harper was the favorite to win the NL MVP after he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies. This season, he opens at +2500. As a buy-low option, this isn’t a bad time to jump back on the Harper bandwagon. We saw him win the award in 2015, so we know he has it in him. One encouraging aspect about Harper’s first season in Philly is that he was much better in the second half of the season after a fairly weak first half, by his standards. Harper had a 136 wRC+ after the All-Star break compared to a 117 wRC+ before it. He also hit three more homers in the second half of the season in 23 less games. It’s hard to know what attributed to his slow start, but I think it’s reasonable to think he may have been pressing a bit with his new team after a signing a massive contract. Now that Harper has a year under his belt in Philadelphia, a bounce back could be in order.
At +4000, it’s not totally crazy to think Trevor Story has an outside chance to win MVP. Like his teammate Nolan Arenado, Story is one of the best defensive players in baseball at his position and he provides plenty of offense. Earlier in his career, Story crushed lefties, but struggled mightily against righties. Now, there isn’t an obvious way to get him out. In 2019, he had a 119+ wRC+ against right-handed pitching and slugged 26 homers off of them. Story has made significant improvements the last couple years, so another step forward could land him in the MVP discussion after he posted a 5.8 WAR last season.
If he can stay healthy, Trea Turner has MVP upside at +6600. The issue is that he’s missed a significant number of games in two of the last three seasons. If he avoids injuries, there is reason to think Turner takes a step forward this season. He’s always had elite speed and his power started to come around last year. Turner matched a career-best mark with 19 homers and did it in just 122 games. If healthy, he has an outside chance at a 30/50 season. The Washington Nationals are the defending champions, but need a big season from Turner after Anthony Rendon signed with the Los Angeles Angels.
2020 NL MVP odds
|Ronald Acuna Jr||+1200|
|Fernando Tatís Jr.||+2000|
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