An updated look at the major MLB awards markets

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We’re roughly 50 games into the 2022 MLB season, so it’s a good time to take an updated look at the contenders for the major awards and how they performed in May.

In this article, I’ll provide an update on the CY Young, MVP and Rookie of the Year races in the American League and National League, along with what bets I’d recommend in those markets.

May Stats for Awards Contenders

NL MVP

Manny Machado: 29 hits, 15 runs, 4 HR, 13 RBIs, 16.3% K rate, 13.5% BB rate, 92.1 MPH average EV, .322/.413/.533, 165 wRC+

Mookie Betts: 39 hits, 31 runs, 12 HR, 27 RBIs, 14.5% K rate, 9.7% BB rate, 90.2 MPH average EV, .355/.419/.773, 228 wRC+

Paul Goldschmidt: 41 hits, 19 runs, 10 HR, 32 RBIs, 20.2% K rate, 10.5% BB rate, 90.7 MPH average EV, .406/.465/.822, 255 wRC+

Pete Alonso: 33 hits, 18 runs, 9 HR, 30 RBIs, 17.9% K rate, 17.9% BB rate, 90.9 MPH average EV, .314/.390/.619, 175 wRC+

Bryce Harper: 32 hits, 17 runs, 7 HR, 18 RBIs, 17.3% K rate, 6.1% BB rate, 93.8 MPH average EV, .352/.388/.692, 193 wRC+

Freddie Freeman: 33 hits, 19 runs, 1 HR, 20 RBIs, 11.9% K rate, 13.5% BB rate, 92.7 MPH average EV, .308/.405/.495, 152 wRC+

Juan Soto: 23 hits, 14 runs, 5 HR, 11 RBIs, 14.3% K rate, 16.8% BB rate, 90.7 MPH average EV, .232/.361/.455, 131 wRC+

Analysis: On first glance Mookie Betts stands out, but Paul Goldschmidt is right behind him and he has seen his odds crash below 10-1 as well. Reigning NL MVP Bryce Harper is still a threat while Manny Machado has taken a slight step back due to tennis elbow. I wouldn’t count Juan Soto out either, but I’m going to wait to see if his number drifts a bit higher before I consider betting him.

AL MVP

Shohei Ohtani: 24 hits, 17 runs, 7 HR, 21 RBIs, 20.7% K rate, 10.8% BB rate, 92.7 MPH average EV, .250/.351/.510, 147 wRC+

25 IP, 8 ER, 3 HR, 33 strikeouts/5 BB, 11.88 K/9, 2.88 ERA, 2.78 FIP, 2.80 xFIP

Aaron Judge: 32 hits, 24 runs, 12 HR, 24 RBIs, 26.3% K rate, 10.5% BB rate, 95.2 MPH average EV, .320/.386/.720, 212 wRC+

Mike Trout: 29 hits, 23 runs, 8 HR, 18 RBIs, 32.1% K rate, 11% BB rate, 93.4 MPH average EV, .302/.385/.625, 187 wRC+

Jose Rameriez: 22 hits, 16 runs, 6 HR, 23 RBIs, 5.9% K rate, 15.7% BB rate, 88 MPH average EV, .256/.373/.581, 174 wRC+

Rafael Devers: 43 hits, 25 runs, 8 HR, 25 RBIs, 19.7% K rate, 6.6% BB rate, 95.3 MPH average EV, .377/.418/.711, 220 wRC+

Vlad Guerrero Jr.: 20 hits, 8 runs, 3 HR, 8 RBIs, 12.6% K rate, 12.6% BB rate, 94.1 MPH average EV, .230/.350/.368, 108 wRC+

Byron Buxton: 13 hits, 14 runs, 5 HR, 10 RBIs, 24.2% K rate, 9.9% BB rate, 89.7 MPH average EV, .163/.253/.375, 82 wRC+

Yordan Alvarez: 24 hits, 17 runs, 8 HR, 16 RBIs, 21.4% K rate, 13.4% BB rate, 95.6 MPH average EV, .250/.348/.542, 157 wRC+

Analysis: I think Buxton has eliminated himself from the MVP race with his poor May numbers. Rafael Devers has seen his odds drop a bit, although he is still widely available around 20-1 or 25-1. Devers has a tough task passing both Judge and Trout, but home runs aside I think Devers just inches out Judge for best May numbers overall.

I was also surprised to see Trout’s 32.1% strikeout rate for the month, but the rest of Trout’s numbers are what they always are. Trout is really overpriced at + 450; I think I’d need at least 10/1 to consider betting him.

Ohtani is striking out less than Aaron Judge or Mike Trout, so I don’t care about any argument centered around “well he strikes out too much” or the argument to skip over his batting average because it’s 2022. Ohtani had what would be considered a “bad week” last week where he gave up 5 ER (the same as Justin Verlander’s last start) against the Blue Jays, while still having 10 strikeouts and finishing the weekend with a two-home run game as a hitter. That’s a “bad week” for Ohtani.

Ohtani finishes May with a 33/5 K/BB ratio, and a 2.88 ERA, while chipping in seven home runs and three stolen bases. Aaron Judge’s May 2022 numbers are about the same as Vlad Jr.’s 2021 offensive numbers and that didn’t get him a single first-place vote. Ohtani is still the MVP favorite as we move into June.

NL Cy Young

Corbin Burnes: 39 IP, 9 ER, 5 HR, 45 K/8 BB, 10.38 K/9, 2.08 ERA, 2.03 FIP, 2.79 xFIP

Joe Musgrove: 33 IP, 6 ER, 2 HR, 33 K/9 BB, 9.0 K/9, 1.64 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 3.64 xFIP

Sandy Alcantara: 42.1 IP, 10 ER, 3 HR, 43 K/12 BB, 10.13 K/9, 2.13 ERA, 3.16 FIP, 3.38 xFIP.

Pablo Lopez: 35.2 IP, 11 ER, 5 HR, 38 K/11 BB, 9.59 K/9, 2.78 ERA, 3.75 FIP, 3.28 xFIP

Walker Buehler: 34 IP, 14 ER, 3 HR, 28 K/9 BB, 7.41 K/9, 3.71 ERA, 3.52 FIP, 3.50 xFIP

Zac Gallen: 35.1 IP, 12 ER, 3 HR, 35 K/8 BB, 8.92 K/9, 2.06 ERA, 2.38 FIP, 3.42 xFIP

Carlos Rodon: 27 IP, 17 ER, 3 HR, 26 K/12 BB, 8.67 K/9, 5.67 ERA, 2.99 FIP, 4.01 xFIP

Zack Wheeler: 32.2 IP, 6 ER, 1 HR, 40 K/5 BB, 11.02 K/9, 1.65 ERA, 1.64 FIP, 2.41 xFIP

Max Fried: 37 IP, 13 ER, 4 HR, 36 K/10 BB, 8.76 K/9, 3.16 ERA, 3.41 FIP, 3.04 xFIP

Josh Hader: 7.1 IP, 0 ER, 0 HR, 11 K/2 BB, 13.50 K/9, 0.00 ERA, 0.95 FIP, 2.50 xFIP

Aaron Nola: 33 IP, 12 ER, 4 HR, 40 K/5 BB, 10.91 K/9, 3.27 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 2.72 xFIP

Tony Gonsolin: 28 IP, 6 ER, 3 HR, 31 K/8 BB, 9.96 K/9, 1.93 ERA, 3.17 FIP, 2.99 xFIP

Analysis: Alcantara has come on strong and seen his odds drop from 25-1 to under 10-1 in the process. With Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer out, Sandy Alcantara and Zack Wheeler are battling it out for best pitcher in the NL East right now.

After a bumpy start, Wheeler put up the best overall numbers in May, pitching a respectable 32.2 innings and giving up one home run while striking out 40 batters and only walking five.

Carlos Rodon has fallen off, although most of that can be attributed to one bad outing against the Cardinals -- still, I don’t see him winning. Walker Buehler is still elite but he’s behind teammate Tony Gonsolin right now. I bet Gonsolin at 100/1 last week.

Josh Hader is the best reliever in MLB, but I am not going to consider someone who pitches 7.1 innings per month for the Cy Young.

While I am actively buying guys like Alcantara and Gonsolin, Corbin Burnes has done nothing to deserve to be knock out of his front-runner status. Burnes is not pitching on the same level he did in 2021 but he’s still the early Cy Young favorite for 2022.

AL Cy Young

Shane McClanahan: 31.1 IP, 4 ER, 4 HR, 39 K/5 BB, 11.20 K/9, 1.15 ERA, 2.37 FIP, 1.94 xFIP

Justin Verlander: 31.2 IP, 8 ER, 5 HR, 27 K/6 BB, 7.67 K/9, 2.27 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 3.75 xFIP

Gerrit Cole: 33.2 IP, 12 ER, 3 HR, 45 K/5 BB, 12.03 K/9, 3.21 ERA, 2.07 FIP, 2.21 xFIP

Kevin Gausman: 31.1 IP, 8 ER, 1 HR, 34 K/5 BB, 9.77 K/9, 2.30 ERA, 1.86 FIP, 2.85 xFIP

Nestor Cortes: 32.1 IP, 7 ER, 3 HR, 33 K/9 BB, 9.19 K/9, 1.95 ERA, 2.32 FIP, 3.51 xFIP

Alek Manoah: 31 IP, 7 ER, 3 HR, 27 K/2 BB, 7.84 K/9, 2.03 ERA, 3.14 FIP, 3.25 xFIP

Shane Bieber: 24.1 IP, 11 ER, 1 HR, 22 K/8 BB, 8.14 K/9, 4.07 ERA, 2.97 FIP, 3.66 xFIP

Logan Gilbert: 36.2 IP, 14 ER, 4 HR, 38 K/14 BB, 9.33 K/9, 3.44 ERA, 3.79 FIP, 3.77 xFIP

Michael Kopech: 23 IP, 3 ER, 21 K/10 BB, 8.22 K/9, 1.17 ERA, 2.61 FIP, 4.40 xFIP

Martin Perez: 35.1 IP, 3 ER, 28 K/9 BB, 7.13 K/9, 0.76 ERA, 2.32 FIP, 3.56 xFIP

Dylan Cease: 31.2 IP, 14 ER, 4 HR, 48 K/13 BB, 13.64 K/9, 3.98 ERA, 3.07 FIP, 2.95 xFIP

Shohei Ohtani: 25 IP, 8 ER, 3 HR, 33 K/5 BB, 11.88 K/9, 2.88 Era, 2.78 FIP, 2.80 xFIP

Tarik Skubal: 31 IP, 5 ER, 2 HR, 35 K/6 BB, 10.16 K/9, 1.45 ERA, 2.30 FIP, 2.65 xFIP

Analysis: I’m selling Verlander and Nestor Cortes, and buying some Gerrit Cole. I already have Shane McClanahan at 40-1 and 25-1 so I’m sitting pretty there.

Farther down, Tarik Skubal is a guy to keep an eye on in the future. I also like Ohtani if he drifts back up to 20/1 or higher again. A big game with a lot of strikeouts against the Yankees would put Ohtani back square into the top tier of this Cy Young conversation.

Martin Perez on the Rangers is putting together some elite performances, and if he continues to do what he’s doing he’ll be in the conversation, but his 3.56 xFIP says that is not likely.

Buying: McClanahan, Cole, Ohtani

Selling: Verlander, Cortes, Bieber, Gilbert

Hope he doesn’t beat me: Gausman

NL Rookie of the Year

MacKenzie Gore: 26.2 IP, 5 ER, 27 K/8 BB, 9.11 K/9, 1.69 ERA, 2.24 FIP, 3.57 xFIP

Nolan Gorman: 12 hits, 9 runs, 2 HR, 7 RBIs, 27.8% K rate, 13.9% BB rate, .387/.472/.667, 224 wRC+

Seiya Suzuki: 15 hits, 7 runs, 0 HR, 7 RBIs, 32.9% K rate, 8.9% BB rate, .211/278/.338, 73 wRC+

Alek Tomas: 18 hits, 10 runs, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 17.3% K rate, 4% BB rate, .247/.307/.457, 113 wRC+

Juan Yepez: 24 hits, 14 runs, 4 HR, 8 RBIs, 19.6% K rate, 8.2% BB rate, .276/.350/.460, 129 wRC+

Christopher Morel: 14 hits, 8 runs, 2 HR, 5 RBIs, 24.6% K rate, 12.3% BB rate, .286/.386/.469, 143 wRC+

Analysis: MacKenzie Gore is the front runner by virtue of no one else really doing anything special yet. I’d like to see a couple more Gore starts before I’d really consider making him the favorite in this market. Seiya Suzuki went to odds on and is now back over + 200; he had zero home runs in the month of May, and a 32.9% K rate. 

It only took about a week for Nolan Gorman to flip teammate Juan Yepez in the odds and in another week, he might be the favorite if he keeps these offensive numbers up that he’s had in the first 10 games of his career. Gorman will always be a high strikeout guy, but so far he’s looked the part.

Christopher Morel was called up straight from Double-A to the Cubs and he’s played well through his first 50+ MLB at bats. I’d rather have Morel at 40-1 or 50-1 than Suzuki at anything under 10-1 right now. Similarly, Michael Harris was just called up from AA Mississippi to the Braves this weekend and he’ll be the Braves everyday centerfielder going forward. I’ve seen him available as high as 80-1 and I definitely want some exposure to that.

Buying: Gorman, Morel, Michael Harris

AL Rookie of the Year

Julio Rodriguez: 33 hits, 12 runs, 6 HR, 16 RBIs, 25.5% K rate, 4.5% BB rate, .314/.345/.533, 160 wRC+

Jeremy Pena: 26 hits, 9 runs, 4 HR, 13 RBIs, 24.7% K rate, 3.7% BB rate, .338/.358/.532, 160 wRC+

Bobby Witt Jr.: 25 hits, 17 runs, 6 HR, 19 RBIs, 24.1% K rate, 5.6% BB rate, .250/.296/.550, 138 wRC+

Adley Rutschman: 7 hits, 4 runs, 0 HR, 0 RBIs, 17.5% K rate, 10% BB rate, .200/.300/.286, 75 wRC+

Joe Ryan: 20.1 IP, 8 ER, 1 HR, 17 K/8 BB, 7.52 K/9, 3.54 ERA, 3.58 FIP, 5.31 xFIP

Reid Detmers: 23.1 IP, 11 ER, 4 HR, 11 K/6 BB, 4.24 K/9, 4.24 ERA, 5.32 FIP, 5.04 xFIP

Spencer Torkelson: 13 hits, 5 runs, 1 HR, 4 RBIs, 22.1% K rate, 11.7% BB rate, .197/.299/.303, 80 wRC+

Analysis: It’s no secret I’m Team JRod this year, but I have to acknowledge that Jeremy Pena is right there at the front of the race with him right now, and Bobby Witt is outslugging both of them and pushing his way up to make this a three-man race.

However, I don’t think anyone is going to run down JRod when all is said and done; certainly not Reid Detmers and we can probably eliminate Spencer Torkelson while we are at it. Joe Ryan is on the COVID IL and we can probably dump him too. Grayson Rodriguez has yet to be called up by the O’s but I think he’s the only pitcher who has a chance to contend for AL ROY. Right now this looks like a 3 horse race between JRod, Pena and Witt Jr.

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