MLB Awards: Where’s The Value?

The 2020 MLB season will almost certainly be abbreviated, but that could create opportunities to find value in some of the awards futures available for betting. Let’s preview the five most prominent awards markets.  

AL MVP
The favorite: Mike Trout +135
Undervalued: Anthony Rendon +2500
Worth a flier: Jose Altuve +4000

In a nutshell: Trout, with his three MVPs and another four top-two finishes over the past eight seasons, offers no value. But his new teammate Rendon, who was an MVP candidate in four of his five full seasons for the Nationals and is fresh off a career year, certainly does – particularly when considering he should continue to thrive with Trout now preceding him in the Angels lineup. And while Altuve may not win many popularity contests, he’s still a career .315 hitter who managed to hit .298 with 31 homers in an injury-plagued 2019. The 2017 AL MVP is the definition of “worth a flier” at 40/1.   

NL MVP
The favorite: Mookie Betts +550
Undervalued: Javier Baez +2200
Worth a flier: Corey Seager +4500

In a nutshell: There’s a solid argument for Betts — who’s squarely in his prime and full of incentive to bash given all signs point to him entering free agency in 2021 — but the price point simply isn’t appealing enough. Baez is interesting. The Cubs collapsed last September after the 2018 NL MVP runner-up broke his thumb, going 11-16 in the final month to fall out of the playoff race. If a healthy Baez leads Chicago back to the cusp of the postseason in 2020, his odds will be significantly shorter than +2200 come September. Speaking of health, that is all that’s preventing Seager – who finished third in the 2016 NL MVP race while earning Rookie of the Year honors before a host of injuries set in – from making another run at the hardware. 

AL CY YOUNG
The favorite: Gerrit Cole +240
Undervalued: Mike Clevinger +2000
Worth a flier: Sean Manaea +7500

In a nutshell: It’s not difficult to envision a scenario where Cole wins 25 games for the Yankees and waltzes to his first Cy Young, but bettors aren’t getting enough bang for their buck to justify the outlay. Clevinger has flown under the radar since joining an Indians team that’s averaged 95 wins over the past four seasons. In that span, the hard-throwing righty’s ERA, WHIP, FIP and walk rate have all improved from one year to the next, making him a solid value play at 20/1. As for Manaea, at his best the southpaw possesses some of the most dominant offspeed stuff in the game, giving him “flier-worthy” potential at 75/1.  

NL CY YOUNG
The favorite: Jacob deGrom +300
Undervalued: Aaron Nola +1700
Worth a flier: Mike Soroka +3000

In a nutshell: deGrom is the fourth pitcher this millennium to win back-to-back Cy Youngs, but only Randy Johnson (1999-2002) was able to extend the run. Bettors should only look to get involved with deGrom if he starts slow and the market softens a bit. Nola, who finished third in the 2018 NL Cy Young race and leads a Phillies team on the rise, present solid value entering his age-27 season. Soroka, meanwhile, burst onto the scene as a rookie last year and has all the makings of a future Cy Young winner.  

HOME RUN CROWN
The favorite: Pete Alonso +950
Undervalued: Bryce Harper +2200
Worth a flier: Juan Soto +4500

In a nutshell: Predicting the home run champion from year to year is notoriously tough, which is to say there’s minimal value on Alonso. Harper, on the other hand, could be worth backing, as he’s the beneficiary of a homer-friendly yard in Citizens Bank Park and overcame a sluggish first few months in Philly to belt 35 long balls in 2019. As for Soto, the only thing mightier than the 21-year-old’s power stroke is his confidence. The young slugger not only crushed 34 homers in his first full season, but he added five more in 17 games postseason games. Soto has a 50-homer campaign in him, the only question is when.  

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