The smart MVP picks -- and one for the bold

May 12th, 2022

A version of this article originally appeared on DraftKings. For more betting insights, check out

Too early to talk about who’ll win the MVP Award this season? Preposterous! I could have written about this weeks ago, quite frankly.’s panel has submitted its votes for who might take the prestigious awards, and we’ll go over a few of them below from each league with DraftKings Sportsbook MVP odds.

Follow along on Twitter (@SBuchanan24) for updates.

American League

Mike Trout, OF, Angels
AL MVP Odds: 4-1

The top vote-getter isn’t even the current leader on DraftKings Sportsbook (more on that guy below) and stands at 4-1 odds. After an injury-plagued 2021 season, Trout has almost taken a carbon copy of his production into 2022. Through 28 games this season, Trout is slashing .337/.462/.726 with nine home runs, 19 RBIs and 25 runs scored. Last season in 36 games, Trout slashed .333/.466/.624 with eight home runs, 18 RBIs and eight runs scored. At this rate, he’s on pace for 45-plus home runs and 110-plus RBIs. Putting up those types of numbers will no doubt get you in MVP talk, so getting 4-1 odds is a more enticing play than it was on Opening Day when he was the odds-on favorite.

As if you needed any more reason to consider Trout for MVP this season, his Statcast numbers indicate he has no signs of slowing down. Trout’s batting average and expected batting average (.337, .320) along with his wOBA and expected wOBA (.504, .503) nearly match up perfectly. He also has a ridiculous 54.5% hard-hit rate -- which, if the season ended today, would be the second-best mark of his career, trailing only his 2020 season when he had 55.1%. Yeah, Trout is a nice play at 4-1.

José Ramírez, 3B, Guardians
AL MVP Odds: 12-1

When it comes to value, Ramírez exhibits some of the best on our voting leaderboard. With the notion that the Guardians were going to struggle to be competitive this season, Ramírez ignored the noise and has gone on to slash .297/.402/.595 with seven home runs, a league-leading 30 RBIs and 18 runs scored. Those types of numbers shouldn’t come as a surprise when you consider Ramírez has been one of the toughest outs in all of baseball. Among players with at least 100 plate appearances, Ramírez’s 7.6 strikeout rate is the lowest in the league. He’s one of just four players with a K% under 10%, which includes Ty France, Wander Franco and teammate Steve Kwan. Can Ramírez do enough to overcome the favorites on the Angels? Time will certainly tell, but he is making a huge play as a double-digit value.

Shohei Ohtani, RHP/DH, Angels
AL MVP Odds: 2.1-1

The odds-on favorite to win AL MVP, Ohtani grabbed nine first-place votes from the panel. Ohtani, unlike any other player in the league, has the advantage as a two-way player. His numbers on the mound have been stellar. Like Trout, his advanced numbers back up what we see on the surface. A 2.78 ERA backed by a 2.13 FIP shows that Ohtani has been pitching as well as we’ve expected. His strikeout numbers are up, boasting a 12.8 K/9 and a current career high in swings and misses, generating at a rate of 16.7%. The cherry on top has been how good his command has been, boasting a BB/9 of 1.9. That places him in some elite company thus far, as just 28 starters with at least 20 innings pitched are walking fewer than two batters per nine innings.

Is it wise to place your bet down on the reigning MVP? I don’t hate the play at all. If Ohtani continues to pitch well and heat up with the bat again, he could quickly become an even bigger favorite and move under plus money. The window to get him at plus money is always something you have to consider, as his unique advantage over the rest of the league gives him such an edge.

National League

Manny Machado, 3B, Padres
NL MVP Odds: 4.25-1

The NL MVP race is more open than the AL. That said, the top vote-getter is also the leader on DraftKings Sportsbook. With the news that Fernando Tatis Jr. would be placed on the 60-day injured list, Machado has done his part to step up in a massive way for the Padres. He’s hitting the cover off the ball, with no regard for the baseball's feelings. Machado is slashing .383/.460/.625 with seven home runs, 22 RBIs, 27 runs scored and six stolen bases through 32 games. The stolen base might be a dying art, but Machado has already reached half his total from 2021, when he swiped 12 bags. He has yet to be caught, which is quite impressive, as he’s averaging 26.4 feet per second this season. To put that into perspective, Royals rookie Bobby Witt Jr. leads the league at 30.4. Machado ranks 234th at his current rate.

With the tear Machado is on, it’s only going to get better when Tatis returns. His protection in the lineup will be a massive boost, not only to Machado but to the San Diego batting order as a whole. If Machado continues to hit for power and is swiping bags at this rate, his numbers could earn him his first MVP Award.

Nolan Arenado, 3B, Cardinals
NL MVP Odds: 5.5-1

On DraftKings Sportsbook, Arenado has the second-best odds at +550. Like Machado, Arenado has been posting some huge numbers for the Cardinals through 29 games. Arenado is batting .315/.382/.595 with seven home runs, 25 RBIs and 14 runs scored. However, Statcast is currently showing that Arenado is overachieving a bit. While the .315 batting average and a .424 wOBA are great, the expected numbers show a significant drop-off. His xBA currently stands at .275 (-.40) while his xwOBA is at .354 (-.70). It certainly doesn’t mean that Arenado's real numbers are due to completely crater, but taking him at +550 might be too early. Arenado has been great post-Coors Field for the Cardinals, and since being away from Colorado, he has still hit 41 home runs and knocked in 130 RBIs through 186 games with St. Louis. Nonetheless, his odds are too short for what will most certainly be a point of regression in the near future.

Jazz Chisholm Jr., 2B, Marlins
NL MVP Odds: 70-1

Let’s talk about one long shot. Chisholm is quickly becoming a fan favorite with his dynamic skills, exuberant style and undeniable power. For someone who is listed at 5-foot-11 and 184 pounds, his ISO (isolated power) stands at .316. That ranks as the third best in the league among players with at least 100 plate appearances, trailing only Mike Trout and Aaron Judge. That’s some good company to be in. It would also be the best mark in the NL, ahead of C.J. Cron (.305) and Rowdy Tellez (.283). With his quick start, Chisholm is already on pace to smash the career-high numbers he had last season, which included 18 home runs, 53 RBIs and 23 stolen bases. With players at those types of numbers, it’s rare that they defy all the odds and come out on top. That said, Robbie Ray was 80-1 to win the American League Cy Young Award in June of last season.

All odds provided by DraftKings Sportsbook and all odds subject to change.

All views expressed are my own. I am an employee of DraftKings and am ineligible to play in public DFS or DKSB contests.

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