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Top MLB Futures Betting Pick: Best Bet to Win AL MVP (2022)

by February 22, 2022
Wander Franco

Major League Baseball has set a February 28th deadline to get a new deal worked out to ensure the regular season will start on time. With how the meetings have gone to date, I’m not optimistic, but I am hopeful.

One of my favorite types of MLB futures to bet is season-long win totals, but since we have no idea how long the season will be, few books have these bets posted just yet. This is the final of four installments digging into my favorite MLB futures; the first three can be found right here:

Best Bet to Win AL East
Best Bet to Win NL Central
Best Bet to Win NL Cy Young

In part four, we’ll switch back to the American League and once again talk about the team that I featured in part one: the Tampa Bay Rays. Here’s why I think their young phenom shortstop has a chance to take home some serious hardware this season.

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AL MVP – Wander Franco (+2800; PointsBet)

There is some real value on Wander Franco in the MVP space, much of which stems from the fact that he’s just 21 years old and plays for a team that doesn’t exactly hail from a big market. But there are plenty of signs from Franco’s display as a rookie that point to him having a huge impact on the Rays and on the playoff race in the American League.

Looking back to part one of this MLB futures series, I picked the Rays to win the AL East despite the Yankees and Blue Jays having shorter odds than Tampa Bay. I believe in this Rays team, and I think Franco is their best and most talented player. History hasn’t always shown that the MVP award goes to a player on the best team or even a team that makes the playoffs – just look at last year’s voting – but being on a good team doesn’t hurt.

Franco also plays a premium position – shortstop. He’ll be at the front and center of everything the Rays do at the plate of course, but he’s also playing the most important position on the field, and that’s another added benefit for us. More important than the optics is Franco’s actual play on the field, and despite having just 70 games of MLB experience and still not celebrating his 21st birthday, Tampa Bay handed him an 11-year deal that could be worth over $220 million with incentives. If the most analytical and cost-driven franchise in baseball thinks highly enough of their young shortstop to fork over that kind of money for that number of years, we’re clearly onto something backing Franco at this price.

His .288 average isn’t eye-popping, but it’s certainly impressive in this day and age, especially considering Franco was a rookie. Perhaps the most impressive portion of his stat line was his .810 OPS, as he showed he was able to get on base and impact the game in a multitude of ways. Let’s not forget – the 20-year old put together an incredible 43-game on base streak as a rookie, and during that streak tallied more base hits (55) than swinging strikes (48). His ability to track pitches is other-worldly, but his plate discipline is something you just don’t see from young ballplayers anymore. Or any ballplayers anymore, really.

To further this, Franco’s strikeout rate was just 12%, 10 percentage points below league average. Impressive, but what’s even more impressive is his walk rate was 7.8%, which was just 0.6 percentage points below league average. Normally when the strikeout rate dips for young players, it means they aren’t working counts, are swinging at far too many pitches out of the zone or early in counts, and thus tapping into routine groundouts or lazy flyouts. Not Franco – he walked at a rate that was nearly league average.

Some may be concerned about the sophomore slump, especially after he hit just seven home runs last year. Don’t be concerned – his exit velocity and sweet spot percentage were both slightly above league average. So the home runs are coming – remember, he’s still got plenty of room to grow, and one point of emphasis this offseason will be getting the ball in the air and thus turning some of these rocket doubles into no-doubter home runs.

He may be young, but he’s one of the most talented, gifted, and well-rounded players in baseball, and he plays for one of the league’s best teams at the most important position. Franco is +2200 at DraftKings, so we’re getting a ton of value at PointsBet. Make sure to shop around for the best line if it moves by the time you’re able to get this wager in.

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