3 players whose MVP odds should draw intrigue

June 2nd, 2022

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It’s been a minute since we looked at potential MVP candidates in baseball. What better time to revisit than after the calendar has turned to June? This is when the chatter really starts to pick up, as the dog days of summer are upon us. Our MVP list is out, and I’m going to discuss three of the players and how I feel about their current odds.

José Ramírez
First-place votes: 7
AL MVP odds: +1200

These are the type of odds I love to fire on. A double-digit contender who has an extremely legitimate chance to take this award. Sure, he must overcome some sizeable competition like Mike Trout, Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani, but at 12-1 odds, how can Ramírez not look like one of the most enticing MVP bets on the board for the American League?

In the AL, Ramírez is the co-leader in WAR (wins above replacement) at 3.0 entering Thursday, per FanGraphs. If you’re not familiar with WAR, it essentially translates a player's contributions into wins. So Ramírez is currently worth 3.0 over a replacement-level player at the same position. In all of baseball, the highest WAR is currently at 3.5 for Mookie Betts. Ramírez has been doing it all for the Guardians, slashing .292/.393/.632 with 13 home runs, 52 RBI (first in MLB) and seven stolen bases. Ramírez already has half the number of RBIs he knocked in last year (103 in 152 games), and those runs represent 24% of the total runs by the Guardians. Grabbing a player who is producing at this rate at 12-1 odds feels like a steal, honestly. Ramírez has all the tools to continue being productive, and I think now is the time to take him.

Mookie Betts
First-place votes: 27
NL MVP odds: +310

Despite earning 27 first-place votes on our list, Betts has the second-best odds on DraftKings Sportsbook to win this award. Manny Machado, who received 20, is the odds-on favorite at +290. Choosing between the two at this time is extremely difficult. That said, Betts does have the benefit of hitting atop the Dodgers' lineup, and that certainly gives a boost to his overall numbers.

Not only does Betts the Majors in WAR at 3.5 entering Thursday, but he also does in runs scored -- by a lot. His 51 runs are more than both Rafael Devers and Aaron Judge, who are tied for second with 39. In the National League, Betts has 13 more runs scored than Tommy Edman (38). Amazingly enough, for someone who bats leadoff, the 35 RBIs by Betts was tied for the 11th-best mark in the Majors. To put this into perspective, there are 22 hitters who have logged at least 100 plate appearances batting leadoff. Of those hitters, Betts is the only one with 30 or more RBIs, with George Springer in second (26). Betts' spot as the leadoff hitter for the Dodgers cannot be overstated, and, in my opinion, should make him the favorite to win NL MVP. I completely understand the love for Machado, and his numbers should continue to stay at this level once he gets more protection in that lineup. However, Betts is my pick, especially on a team that is averaging 5.51 runs per game, which is the highest in baseball.

Rafael Devers
First-place votes: 1
AL MVP odds: +2000

I wanted to give Devers some love in this MVP chatter. He’s one of the longer shots on the board at 20-1 odds and only received one vote from our panel. It’s understandable, as the MVP field in the American League is quite robust. But, like Devers, these longshots can produce some incredible return on investment. While the buzz continues around the players with the better odds, Devers is quietly producing some massive numbers in Boston.

Coming into Thursday, Devers has logged 73 hits through 214 at-bats, good for a .341 average. Of those 73 hits, 33 (!) of them have gone for extra bases. That means more than 45% of Devers' hits have gone for extra bases, which include 21 doubles (second in MLB), 11 home runs and a triple. To be fair, Devers has always been a doubles machine, posting a career high of 54 in 2019. Nonetheless, the amount of power he’s hitting for is currently on pace for a new career high. If we’re being perfectly honest, power numbers always grabs the attention of anyone who has an MVP vote to give. It’s going to take a lot to win this award in a packed AL field, but at these odds, it won’t hurt to take a shot with Devers. For someone who currently boasts a very impressive xBA (expected batting average) of .327 and an xWOBA (expected weighted on-base average) of .397, this production has been genuine.

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

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