When it comes to futures, like who will win a Most Valuable Player award, it’s always important to look at trends of seasons past. Bettors have two chances to win, as MVPs are awarded to both an American League and National League representative.
Since 2010, eight of the ten American League MVPs played on first-place teams. Mike Trout is the only player to earn the AL MVP without playing on a first-place team. On average, the teams representing these MVPs won 91.2 games per season.
There has been almost as much “chalk” in the National League voting. In the last ten years, seven MVPs were on first-place teams. The other three played on teams who finished in second in their division. The average season win total for teams of MVPs in that span is 93.4.
The only player to win MVP on a team who finished worse than .500 was Giancarlo Stanton in 2017. That year, he led the league with 59 home runs and 132 runs batted in.
With these trends in mind, we are able to assess the value of each player’s odds. Here are the best bets to win the MVP award from each league.
Best Value Bets for American League MVP
Matt Chapman (+1800)
Matt Chapman is entering his fourth year (third full season) for the Oakland Athletics. He is as durable as they come, playing 145 and 156 games in the last two seasons. Chapman finished seventh in MVP voting in 2017 and sixth in 2018. He has progressed as a player in the last two years. He improved his home run total by 12 last year, and he upped his RBI total by 23. In each of the past two years, he has also won the Gold Glove at third base.
Oakland’s projected win total is 89.5. This is the second-highest in the division, behind Houston’s projection of 94.5. With the Astros, it’s possible that the cumulative effect of the sign-stealing scandal and the treatment they receive from it will be too difficult to overcome.
If Houston does not play up to the caliber they have played the last three seasons, Oakland is the most likely team to capitalize. If the Athletics win the AL West, Matt Chapman will likely play a big role given his impact at the plate and in the field.
Gerrit Cole (+5000)
With a projected win total of 100.5, it’s hard to overlook the Yankees when it comes to MVP odds. One pitcher from each league (Justin Verlander, 2011; Clayton Kershaw, 2014) has won the MVP in the last ten years. This year, Gerrit Cole has the perfect set-up for another pitcher to take home the MVP.
The Yankees have received nothing but troubling news on the injury front this offseason. Luis Severino will miss the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. Fellow starting pitcher James Paxton will miss the first 3-4 months. Domingo German still has more than 60 games to serve from his suspension for his role in a domestic abuse case. In addition, sluggers Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton are dealing with injuries that may linger all season.
Though the Yankees may have overpaid for Gerrit Cole, he is looking like he’s worth every penny right now. The Yankees need Cole to be their “rock” at the top of the rotation while they get healthy. Cole led the league in ERA and finished second in the Cy Young voting last year. If he produces a year similar to that in the Bronx, and the Yankees win the division as expected, Cole will be sure to receive MVP votes.
Best Value Bets for National League MVP
Bryce Harper (+1800)
The players at the top of the NL MVP list all have odds that are too short for my liking. Bryce Harper represents good value toward the top of this list. The Washington Nationals did not seem to miss Harper last season. All they did without their former MVP was win the World Series. However, expect big things from Harper in year two in Philadelphia.
The Phillies had a disappointing year in 2019. They finished in fourth place in the NL East with an 81-81 record. However, even in a “down year” team-wise, Harper still played 157 games and hit 35 home runs. He also drove in a career-best 114 runs. Harper is off to a solid start in 2020, already matching his home run total from last year’s spring training.
Citizens Bank Park is one of the most hitter-friendly stadiums in baseball. If he can stay healthy, there is no reason to believe Harper cannot match his numbers from last year. If the Phillies win the division, it could be enough for Harper to earn his second MVP award.
Pete Alonso (+3500)
Pete Alonso is another solid choice for an MVP candidate out of the winnable NL East. The Mets have always had a talented team. Their problem over the last few seasons has been an inability to stay healthy.
Last year, Alonso set the major league record for most home runs by a rookie. His 53 HRs and 120 RBIs made him an easy choice for Rookie of the Year. Alonso also finished seventh in the MVP voting. If the Mets can overtake the Braves and Nationals for NL East supremacy, it will be hard to look past another solid year from Alonso for MVP consideration.