Best bets for MLB awards and playoff race futures

June 30, 2023 06:30 PM

Best bets for MLB Futures at the season's halfway point

We have passed the halfway point of the season. As we wrap up the month of June all 30 MLB teams have played more than 80 games. A lot of teams and players are looking forward to the All-Star Break just over a week from now to get a few days off and time to reset. This week, I am going to take another look at MLB Player Awards and see what the landscape looks like at the halfway point of the season as well as take a closer look at some contenders' last 30 days numbers/performance for the Month of June.


Ohtani -1450 vs. Field +700

Shohei Ohtani keeps putting more distance between him and the rest of the field. There really isn’t much more to say. I will revisit the AL MVP race if/when an injury occurs.


Ronald Acuna -194 vs. Field +148 at FanDuel

Similar to the AL MVP race Acuna continues to put distance between himself and the next closest contenders. Let’s take a look at the contenders and their numbers for the month of June.

Acuna: 35 hits, 23 runs, 8 doubles, 8 home runs, 21 RBI, 13 strikeouts/11 walks, 14 stolen bases, .349./.412/.651

Carroll: 30 hits, 25 runs, 7 doubles, 8 home runs, 22 RBI, 22 strikeouts/6 walks, 8 stolen bases, .291/.348/.631

Freeman: 25 hits, 17 runs, 4 doubles, 4 home runs, 17 RBI, 22 strikeouts/10 walks, 4 stolen bases, .266/.358/.436

Arraez: 42 hits, 17 runs, 5 doubles, 2 home runs, 19 RBI, 6 strikeouts/7 walks, 0 stolen bases, .412/.455/.520

The situation with the NL MVP race is similar to the AL MVP race. Ronald Acuna is very far ahead of the rest of the field, and it will take an injury or major slump in the second half for anyone to really make up ground in this race. I’m not going to bet more on Luis Arraez, but I will keep my eye on his performance the next few days going into the All-Star Break. The Marlins currently are tied for the second-best record in the National League trailing only the Diamondbacks and Braves. If it wasn’t for those Braves and Ronald Acuna, Arraez would be a much more serious contender right now. If you want to knock Arraez for his lack of home run-hitting power or that he doesn’t steal bases, that’s fine. Acuna’s lead might be too much for anyone to overcome. Corbin Carroll looks like he avoided a serious injury to his shoulder on Thursday. If the Diamondbacks win the NL West, Carroll should be in the picture for MVP, likely ahead of Freeman, but still trailing Acuna by a significant margin.

AL Cy Young

Shane McClanahan: 3-0, 2.70 ERA, 23.1 innings pitched, 16 hits, 3 home runs, 7 ER, 18 strikeouts, 8 walks, .190 opponent batting average

Framber Valdez: 2-2, 2.73 ERA, 33 innings pitched, 26 hits, 1 home run, 10 ER, 33 strikeouts, 9 walks, .218 opponent batting average

Kevin Gausman: 4-1, 2.97 ERA, 36.1 innings pitched, 31 hits, 3 home runs, 12 ER, 50 strikeouts, .231 opponent batting average

Gerrit Cole: 2-1, 2.40 ERA, 30 innings pitched, 28 hits, 2 home runs, 8 ER, 34 strikeouts, .248 opponent batting average

Shohei Ohtani: 2-2, 3.26 ERA, 30.1 innings pitched, 26 hits, 4 home runs, 11 ER, 37 strikeouts, .288 opponent batting average

Cole rebounded from bad May numbers that saw him post a 5.18 era over 33 innings, with 19 earned runs and eight home runs. If the Yankees make a run in the second half, Gerrit Cole will be a large part of that, but I don’t think I’d bet Cole at 5/1 this week.

Shane McClanahan and Framber Valdez are the front runners right now. Cole is trailing both of them and Gausman, and Nathan Eovaldi, who I didn’t profile, is also in the picture. Shohei Ohtani lingers right behind Gausman and Eovaldi as well. It’s important to note Ohtani has 127 strikeouts which puts him ahead of all the other Cy Young contenders aside from Kevin Gausman who has 137. A Cy Young for Ohtani is not out of the question. Ohtani could conceivably jump Gausman in the AL strikeouts standings while also leading MLB in home runs, he might have an ERA higher than Valdez or McClanahan at the end of the season but for me to just even type “he could lead the AL in strikeouts and MLB in home runs,” I’d think 10/1 on Ohtani to win AL Cy Young going into the All-Star Break isn’t the worst bet.

NL Cy Young

Zac Gallen: 3-0, 3.69 ERA, 31.2 innings pitched, 33 hits, 13 ER, 5 home runs, 26 strikeouts, 6 walks .266 opponent batting average

Clayton Kershaw: 4-0, 1.09 ERA, 33 innings pitched, 21 hits, 4 ER, 4 home runs, 30 strikeouts, 8 walks, .181 opponent batting average

Spencer Strider: 4-0, 5.46 ERA, 28 innings pitched, 29 hits, 7 home runs, 40 strikeouts, 10 walks, .266 opponent batting average

Marcus Stroman: 2.17 ERA, 29 innings pitched, 27 hits, 0 home runs, 23 strikeouts, 11 walks, .239 opponent batting average

These June numbers are easy to break down. Zac Gallen was good, but not good enough to win Cy Young. Spencer Strider benefits from a strong Braves offense that helped him with four wins, but his overall numbers aren’t great at all. Strider leads MLB in strikeouts, but leading MLB in strikeouts doesn’t guarantee you a Cy Young. Clayton Kershaw was NL Pitcher of the Month in April, and he will probably win a second time in June. Book still has Gallen 2/1 and Kershaw 3/1, I’d probably make the +250 each, maybe 3/1, but in any case, Kershaw should be ahead of Gallen at this point. Kershaw’s brand name recognition might push him over the top, and it should make him the front-runner ending the first half.

Marcus Stroman is Kershaw’s main competition for another Cy Young and put up very competitive numbers in June. When you consider Stroman pitched in London and he gave up zero home runs over the past month, it's hard to discount him, especially when he’s still available to bet at over 10/1. I see 12/1 at FanDuel and 13/1 at DraftKings. With the value on Kershaw gone, I’m interested in Marcus Stroman here at double-digit odds. Tom Tango has Kershaw and Stroman separated by less than a point in his Cy Young Model. More reason to take Stroman at double-digit odds here.

AL Rookie of the Year

Josh Jung: 23 hits, 15 runs, 4 doubles, 4 home runs, 11 RBI, 30 strikeouts/7 walks, 0 stolen bases, .230/.294/.390

Masataka Yoshida: 22 hits, 10 runs, 5 doubles, 1 home run, 8 RBI, 14 strikeouts/7 walks, 0 stolen bases, .247/.316/.360

Gunnar Henderson: 24 hits, 10 runs, 4 doubles, 6 home runs, 16 RBI, 22 strikeouts/4 walks, 3 stolen bases, .338/.373/.676

Jung and Yoshida did not post what would be considered Rookie of the Year numbers in June. That does not mean they won’t win, but those numbers will need to improve significantly in July and August, or else their strong first-half numbers will likely be forgotten. Especially if Gunnar Henderson continues to improve. I bet Henderson before the season at 4/1 and 5/1 and again when his odds drifted in-season to 18/1. Right now, he’s back around his opening number. If you have not bet Henderson yet, you have the opportunity to bet him now at the same number you would have before the season started. With the O’s -185 to make the playoffs and I don’t think you can play the “well Jung is on a playoff team, and Henderson isn’t’ card here. I’m still bullish on Henderson.

NL Rookie of the Year

Corbin Carroll: Carroll: 30 hits, 25 runs, 7 doubles, 8 home runs, 22 RBI, 22 strikeouts/6 walks, 8 stolen bases, .291/.348/.631

Elly De La Cruz: 25 hits, 20 runs, 5 doubles, 3 home runs, 11 RBI, 29 strikeouts/7 walks, 9 stolen bases, .301/.356/.518

Matt McClain: 32 hits, 19 runs, 7 doubles, 4 home runs, 17 RBI, 32 strikeouts/5 walks, 3 stolen bases, .291/.339/.536

Eury Perez: 3-0, 0.32 ERA, 28 innings pitched, 18 hits, 1 ER, 1 home runs, 35 strikeouts/5 walks, .178 opponent batting average

Corbin Carroll is doing to Elly De La Cruz and the rest of the NL ROY Field what Ronald Acuna is doing to him, which is out-distancing himself so far from the rest of the field it will take an injury or major slump for anyone to possibly catch him.

Injuries do happen, and Carroll looks like he just avoided a serious one Thursday night when he was removed from the game early with a suspected shoulder injury. As I write this on Friday, Carroll seems to have avoided missing any playing time, and while he did leave Thursday’s game early, he was also (deservedly) named as one of the starting outfielders in the All-Star game.

It only took 15 games for Elly De La Cruz to hit for the cycle, and he is currently the thing, or the next big thing, or the current shiny object, however you want to describe it. If Rookie of the Year was based on highlights and social media clips, Elly would be a lock, just like O’Neil Cruz would have won last year. But you have to win with your performance on the field and cycles aside, Carroll is still the guy. That said, if you were going to get into this race, hitting for the cycle in your 15th career game would be the way to start. But it's still an uphill climb, and by uphill climb, I mean like climbing Mt. Everest, at night, without oxygen. The other problem for Elly is that while he is Elly De La Cruz and all everyone is talking about, his teammate, Matt McClain, also happens to be putting up very respectable numbers.

Then there’s Eury Perez. The Marlins don’t get a lot of respect, from myself included. But Eury Perez has been as good as advertised if not better. He’s been good enough, and the Marlins will have a hard time limiting his innings and keeping him fresh for a potential playoff run. Perez pitched 28 innings in June with 35 strikeouts, giving up one run on a solo home run. Rookie or not, that’s about as good as any player can pitch in major league baseball. If that’s not going to win you a Rookie of the Year or at least get you in consideration, then no pitcher will ever win this award again. Right now, it's not inconceivable to see Eury in second behind Carroll, ahead of Elly De La Cruz. Cycle aside, 0.32 ERA over a calendar month gets my attention. Eury Perez, until he has an exceptionally bad start should be considered the second-place guy for NL Rookie of the Year

Make/Miss Playoffs

All odds from DraftKings

Guardians: Yes +155/No -180

Twins: Yes -135/No +115

As I’m writing this, the Guardians are losing to the Cubs 10-0 after losing to the Royals in extra innings yesterday. I still think they are better than the Minnesota Twins, and I am betting the Guardians to make the playoffs at +155. I am also betting the Twins to miss the playoffs at +115. Outside of their starting pitching the Twins have not impressed me all season, and I think the offense is too limited, especially when they are relying on Byron Buxton who will never be 100% healthy and cannot play the outfield.

Brewers Yes -195/No +165

I bet this before the season, and I’m betting it again now: the Brewers to miss the playoffs +165. The Brewers do not have another off day until the All-Star Break, and they finish the first half of the season with a three-game series against the Reds. I think this number will be shorter by the Break, and I’m adding to my position now.

Angels Yes +210/No -250

The Angels still have trouble consistently beating good teams but if there has ever been an MLB team that is ‘All In,’ it’s the Angels. They are so ‘All In’ they have their chips on the table, they have their wallet on the table, and they are currently taking their pants off trying to put those on the table as well.

There is almost 0% chance Shohei Ohtani is re-signing with the Angels this offseason, so this is their only chance to make a playoff run with Mike Trout and Ohtani or forever be known as the team that didn’t even make the playoffs with two of the best players of all time. The Angels will be aggressively trying to acquire pitching at the Trade Deadline, and they have already shown they will promote any pitcher who’s remotely MLB-ready, having already promoted three pitchers straight from AA, skipping AAA entirely, something I can’t recall happening with any other team/season. I added the Angels to make the playoffs at +210 this week. It might be a bumpy ride to get there, but I think they will bump someone out of the Wild Card.

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