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MLB Futures: AL and NL MVP Prediction Process and Picks

by March 8, 2021
Jose Ramirez

The MLB awards both an NL and AL MVP every season. The MVPs are determined by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA). The actual voting occurs just before the MLB postseason, yet results are not announced until after the World Series. There are plenty of write-ups you’ll find around the internet, heck, even this site, that will give you advice on specific bets to make on the MVP futures race. However, we’re going to take a more “Macro approach” here. Zooming out a bit, we’ll provide some objective clues to give bettors a framework to use instead of focusing on specific picks.

Let’s lead off with the 2021 AL and NL MVP frontrunners/current odds (listed below, all in + lines based on BettingPros Consensus)

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When predicting the MVP, as with anything else, we should look to the past and reverse engineer our way to a baseline of options. Instead of viewing all the frontrunners above and working from there, let’s see how recent award winner’s odds were going in to the regular season to understand what actual MVP winner’s odds look like preseason.

As you can see above, rarely has the favorite actually ended up as the MVP. The NL MVP winner specifically seems to be an absolute crapshoot, averaging out to +3618 preseason odds, while the AL averaged out to +2017 preseason odds. Given this, it’s hard to view any of the top 2-4 favorites as a likely positive Expected Value (EV) play. That is, even if Trout ends up winning the 2021 MVP, as he’s a big favorite to do so, the payout isn’t worth the fact (we’ve discovered) big favorites don’t typically bring home the hardware. I would recommend working from the +800/+1000 and up.

After that, we can cross out any player on a team with a low win projection, given that MVPs rarely come from players sitting at home in October. That leaves us with the following options:

Here is the last but most critical part. It’s quite a labor-intensive process but has the chance to have the greatest impact. Although significant rules prohibit the BWAA members from DIRECTLY disclosing their selections (trust me, I tried), the MVP picks are made by humans. Humans with Twitter accounts. We will be running a formal study documenting keywords each voter uses relative to MVP candidates, but in the meantime, I would suggest doing your homework and investigating their content if you are planning to make a serious bet.

Below you can find the entire roster of the AL and NL MVP selectors, along with links to their bio/social media accounts.

Name Affiliation Team(s) covered Job description
Andrew Wagner Wisconsin State Journal Brewers Beat Writer
Anthony Castrovince All Columnist
Barry M. Bloom Forbes All Columnist
Bill Plunkett Orange County Register Dodgers Beat Writer
Bill Shaikin Los Angeles Times All National writer
Bob Dutton At large Mariners Beat Writer
Bob Elliott Canadian Baseball Network All, Blue Jays National writer
C. Trent Rosecrans The Athletic Reds Beat Writer
Clark Spencer Miami Herald Marlins Beat Writer
Dan Hayes The Athletic Twins Beat Writer
Dan Szymborski All Columnist
Dejan Kovacevic Pirates Columnist
Eric Stephen SB Nation All National writer
Evan Drellich The Athletic All National writer
Evan Grant Dallas Morning News Rangers Beat Writer
Grant Brisbee The Athletic Giants Columnist
J.P. Hoornstra Southern California News Group Dodgers Beat Writer
Jane Lee A’s Beat Writer
Jason Foster The Sporting News All Editor
Jay Jaffe Sports Illustrated All Columnist
Jeff Fletcher Orange County Register Angels Beat Writer
Jeff Passan ESPN All National writer
Jim Alexander Riverside Press Enterprise Angels, Dodgers, Padres Columnist
Jorge L. Ortiz USA TODAY All National writer
Kyle Glaser Baseball America All National writer
LaVelle E. Neal III Minneapolis Star Tribune Twins Beat Writer
Leonte Landino ESPN Deportes All Editor
Lou DiPietro YES Network Yankees Beat writer
Lynn Henning Detroit News Tigers Backup
Marc Topkin Tampa Bay Times Rays Beat Writer
Mark Newman At large All Editor
Mark Sheldon Reds Beat Writer
Mark Zuckerman Nationals Beat Writer
Matt Gelb The Athletic Phillies Beat Writer
Matt Snyder CBS Sports All National writer
Michael Axisa CBS Sports All National writer
Mike Harrington Buffalo News Blue Jays Columnist
Mike Petriello All Analyst
Nick Piecoro The Arizona Republic Diamondbacks Beat Writer
Paul Sullivan Chicago Tribune Cubs, White Sox Beat writer
Peter Abraham The Boston Globe Red Sox Beat Writer
Rhett Bollinger Angels Beat Writer
Ricardo Montes ESPN Deportes Miami Marlins Columnist
Rob Biertempfel Pittsburgh Tribune-Review Pirates Beat Writer
Roberto Colon El Nuevo Dia / Unanimo Deportes All National writer
Ryan Fagan Sporting News All National Writer
Scott Lauber Philadelphia Inquirer Phillies Beat Writer
Steve Buckley The Athletic Red Sox Columnist
Ted Berg At large All National writer
Tony DeMarco All National writer
Tyler Kepner New York Times All National writer
Zach Buchanan The Athletic Diamondbacks Beat Writer
Zack Meisel The Athletic Indians Beat Writer

In summary, when predicting MLB MVPs:

  • Ignore the top 2-4 favorites, and stick to the +2000 or above level
  • Eliminate players from likely low win total teams
  • Use human nature against the voters, and do your due diligence by finding clues on their Twitter accounts.

Given this strategy, we have whittled the positive EV selections down and will go a step further to find our final picks. Using Marcel Projections, excluding any player with under 30 HR projection, then considering OPS and Reliability, we find three picks in the +3000 category that we will invest in (Full Chart Below).

We suggest focusing the majority of your MLB MVP Futures bets on:

  • Jose Ramirez
  • Nelson Cruz
  • Manny Machado

Compare odds from all major sportsbooks for the 2021 AL and NL MVP >>

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