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Checking out early market for MLB bets

By Jason Weingarten  () 

weingarten

AL MVP

DraftKings

Mike Trout + 225

Shohei Ohtani + 900

Alex Bregman + 1000

Jose Ramirez + 1300

Aaron Judge + 1600

Jose Abreu + 1800

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. + 2200

Byron Buxton + 3000

Westgate

Mike Trout + 140

Shohei Ohtani + 800

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. + 1000

Byron Buxton + 1200

Jose Ramirez + 1600

Alex Bregman + 1600

Aaron Judge + 1800

Jose Abreu + 1800

Shohei Ohtani is Bo Jackson, or at least he’s doing Bo Jackson things. He hit a baseball at 119 mph Monday night, joining Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez and Nelson Cruz as the only players to hit a ball that hard since Statcast started tracking in 2015. 

Through 10 games, Ohtani was slashing .333/.366/1.109 with three doubles, two triples, three home runs and 11 RBIs. The only negative was that he didn’t pitch his second scheduled start of the season due to a recurring blister, and no update has been provided on his next start. Meanwhile, the Angels were leading the AL at 7-3, with Mike Trout hitting .394/.545/1.394 with four home runs. Since 2012, Trout has won or finished second in AL MVP voting seven times while never finishing lower than fifth. He still deserves to be a very short favorite over the AL MVP field, but the difference between this year’s Angels and those of previous years has been Ohtani. He is doing things never seen in modern baseball, but he still faces an uphill battle to beat his own teammate. 

If I were looking for a non-Angels MVP bet, I’d look for odds on the Twins’ Byron Buxton, who’s 30-1 at DraftKings and FanDuel, 12-1 at the Westgate and 50-1 at PointsBet. I tried to bet $200 on Buxton at PointsBet, which had Buxton listed at 50-1, but when I logged in he was listed at 28-1. I did not bet that. Through eight games, Buxton had five home runs while batting .481/.548/1.734. Those numbers will come down, but I think he has a better chance to win the MVP than teammate Cruz.

Alex Bregman at 10-1 doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t think any Astro associated with the cheating scandal will be given serious awards consideration unless he does something truly spectacular, like a 40-40 season. I think Bregman is dead money at the top. 

NL MVP

DraftKings

Odds off the board

Westgate

Ronald Acuna Jr. + 300

Juan Soto + 500

Mookie Betts + 500

Corey Seager + 1200

Nolan Arenado + 1200

Fernando Tatis Jr. + 6000

DraftKings’ odds are off the board. Westgate has settled on dropping Fernando Tatis Jr. to 60-1, while he is 30-1 at FanDuel and 20-1 at BetMGM, which indicates that nobody knows exactly what to do with him. Early indications are that he will be activated this weekend in time to face the Dodgers. But it is interesting to see how much his odds have dropped due to a single stint on the 10-day IL. He could return and put his name back into the conversation, but I don’t see how Tatis will be a serious MVP candidate when you consider he’s less than fully healthy and unlikely to outperform Corey Seager, another shortstop on a better team in Tatis’ division. The Dodgers are on pace for almost 130 wins, and I still think the MVP will come from the Dodgers if they win close to 120 games. 

Ronald Acuna Jr. is giving everyone an early run, though. Westgate has dropped him to + 300 already. FanDuel has + 550, with PointsBet and BetMGM still offering + 600. Acuna was batting a red-hot .447/.947/1.447 with four home runs through 10 games. 

Most hard-hit balls in 2021: 

Franmil Reyes 18

Alex Bregman 17

Kyle Tucker 17

Ryan McMahon 16

Corey Seager 16

Seager hadn’t homered though nine games, which isn’t much to worry about. He was tied for the NL lead in hard-hit balls and was batting .342/.444/.892 with seven walks in 45 plate appearances. Seager is worth checking out at 10-1 or better odds if you haven’t bet him already. At those odds he’s a better bet to win MVP than teammate Mookie Betts. Plus it’s a contract year for Seager, so he has extra motivation.

AL Cy Young 

DraftKings

Gerrit Cole + 300

Shane Bieber + 500

Lucas Giolito + 550

Tyler Glasnow + 800

Jose Berrios + 1200

Westgate

Gerrit Cole 5-2

Tyler Glasnow 5-2

Shane Bieber + 500

Lucas Giolito + 600

Jose Berrios + 800

There’s no point in going deeper than five on this list. Glasnow might have had the most impressive start of the season in this group, with 14 strikeouts over 7.2 innings while giving up only two hits and a walk Monday night. But that start came against the Texas Rangers, who are in the running for worst team in baseball. I still haven’t seen anything compelling enough to make me want to jump into this market.

NL Cy Young 

DraftKings

Jacob deGrom + 300

Westgate 

Jacob deGrom + 200

FanDuel

Jacob deGrom + 300

PointsBet

Jacob deGrom + 300

Using Tom Tango’s enhanced game scores for NL pitchers through two starts, the leaders are:

Jacob deGrom 59.3

Clayton Kershaw 54.9

Trevor Bauer 54.6

Walker Buehler 53.8

Yu Darvish 53.8

Zack Wheeler 52.9

Max Scherzer 52.8

Last week I bet $100 on Zach Eflin at 200-1 and $100 on Julio Urias at 100-1. I probably should have just bet more on deGrom or lit that $200 on fire. At the beginning of the season, I said my goal was not to throw away thousands of dollars betting long shots in MLB player award markets. Fortunately, this was only $200. 

DeGrom is the best pitcher in baseball. This is not breaking news. But the gap between him and the Dodgers’ aces and the rest of the NL is huge. There is not a ton of value on deGrom at 3-1, but I’d rather add to my deGrom position at those odds than make any more bets in this market. 

I did bet a bit on the Brewers’ Corbin Burnes at 30-1 and 35-1 last week. I think he’ll finish in the top three to top five in the NL Cy Young race. But I’d still rather bet more on deGrom than continue to look for long shots. I don’t think this is a market with an upset this year. 

Rookie of the Year 

I’m going to wait another week or two before I really dive into the Rookie of the Year odds. Right now Westgate, PointsBet and BetMGM are the most active markets, with Westgate moving and updating its numbers the most frequently. 

I think the early favorites and odds are misleading when guys like Jarred Kelenic and Wander Franco haven’t made their major-league debuts yet. 

Yermin Mercedes of the White Sox is a good story, but at 7-1 that’s a silly bet. I’m betting more on Kelenic at Westgate at 16-1. You don’t win ROY because you had a good April. But we will dive deeper into this market in the weeks to come. 

AL Manager of the Year 

BetMGM 

Joe Maddon + 1000

Maddon is 10-1 to win Manager of the Year at BetMGM. I mentioned last week I think this award is a good proxy for make-or-miss playoff markets, and the Angels have much better than a 10-1 chance to make the playoffs right now. Not even 10% of the season has been played, but they were leading the AL at 7-3 and are playing good baseball. A playoff appearance would make Maddon a serious contender for AL Manager of the Year.

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