Freeman, Abreu on inside track to MVP

By Jason Weingarten  () 

Player futures are off the board everywhere, so this was a very light betting week. All bets are risking one unit unless specified. For the purpose of this column, one unit is equal to $500.

NL MVP

I called this race for Fernando Tatis Jr. too early, and it’s going to end up costing me a lot of money. I said it would take a two-week slump to cost Tatis the MVP, and he has now been slumping for almost three. Freddie Freeman might be the favorite right now, and Manny Machado and Mookie Betts have cases to be made. Juan Soto would get more serious consideration on a playoff team, but the combination of 10 missed games and no playoffs kills any consideration. Corey Seager also has been more or less eliminated from consideration.

Third runner-up

Tatis: 47 runs, 15 home runs, 41 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, .278/.367/.931 154 OPS+ , .287 ISO, .391 wOBA, 148 wRC+ 

Second runner-up

Machado: 42 runs, 16 home runs, 46 RBIs, 6 stolen bases, .314/.376/.980 166 OPS+ , 290 ISO, .402 wOBA, 156 wRC+ 

First runner-up

Betts: 42 runs, 16 home runs, 39 RBIs, 9 stolen bases, .303/.376/.973 161 OPS+ , .294 ISO, .406 wOBA, 160 wRC

Winner

Freeman: 45 runs, 11 home runs, 48 RBIs, 1 stolen base, .340/.460/1.084 182 OPS+ , .284 ISO, .450 wOBA, 182 wRC+  

Honorable mention

Soto: 34 runs, 11 home runs, 32 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, .348/.477/1.151 203 OPS+ , .326 ISO, .465 wOBA, 192 wRC+ 

I think Tatis getting a runner-up finish is the worst outcome for bettors and the best outcome for the books. Tatis was still as high as 20-1 early in the season, and there was likely some action on him at even higher numbers preseason. Next year Tatis will open as one of the co-favorites with Betts and Soto, and the value will be gone. 

AL MVP

This is another confusing market in which the Indians’ Jose Ramirez has jumped into the race, though he’s more likely to split votes with teammate Shane Bieber than win the MVP. 

Jose Abreu and Tim Anderson are contenders for the White Sox, while Nelson Cruz has fallen off a bit. Mike Trout might be the most deserving but could have a hard time winning on another losing Angels team. Brandon Lowe of the Rays and MLB home run leader Luke Voit of the Yankees also deserve consideration. This award all of a sudden has a lot of contenders, and I’m not sure how it shakes out.

Trout: 50 games, 40 runs, 16 home runs, 43 RBIs, 1 stolen base, 31 walks, 51 strikeouts, .291/.392/1.006 171 OPS+ , .323 ISO, .412 wOBA, 167 wRC+ 

Abreu: 54 games, 40 runs, 18 home runs, 55 RBIs, 0 stolen bases, 14 walks, 52 strikeouts, .333/.381/.1.025 176 OPS+ , .311 ISO, .428 wOBA, 178 wRC+ 

Anderson: 43 games, 44 runs, 10 home runs, 21 RBIs, 5 stolen bases, 9 walks, 39 strikeouts, .355/.390/.980 166 OPS+ , .165 ISO, .414 wOBA, 168 wRC+ 

Ramirez: 52 games, 41 runs, 16 home runs, 41 RBIs, 10 stolen bases, 27 walks, 40 strikeouts, .290/.376/.971 157 OPS+ , .305 ISO, .406 wOBA, 156 wRC+ 

Lowe: 51 games, 33 runs, 13 home runs, 33 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, 23 walks, 53 strikeouts, .271/.364/.929 155 OPS+ , 2.94 ISO, .389 wOBA, 153wRC+ 

Voit: 50 games, 39 runs, 21 home runs, 49 RBIs, 0 stolen bases, 15 walks, 50 strikeouts, .280/.341./.982 164 OPS+ , .360 ISO, .405 wOBA, 161 wRC+ 

Bieber: 8-1 in 11 starts/72.1 innings pitched, 1.74 ERA/2.13 FIP/2.07 xFIP, 7 home runs, 18 walks, 112 strikeouts, 13.94 K/9, 0.87 HR/9. 

After laying out the stats, I rank it: 

Abreu

Trout 

Bieber

Voit

Anderson

Ramirez

Lowe

NL Cy Young

The top three contenders are Yu Darvish, Trevor Bauer and Jacob deGrom. The next three contenders are Corbin Burnes, Max Fried and Dinelson Lamet.

 

Darvish: 7-3 in 11 starts/69 innings pitched, 2.22 ERA/2.23 FIP/2.68 xFIP, 1.00 WHIP, 88 strikeouts, 13 walks, 11.5 K/9, 0.7 HR/9

Final start: Friday at White Sox

Bauer: 4-4 in 10 starts/65 innings pitched, 1.80 ERA/3.15 FIP/3.31 xFIP, 0.815 WHIP, 88 strikeouts, 16 walks, 12.2 K/9, 1.2 HR/9

Final start: Wednesday vs. Brewers (also lines up Bauer to pitch Sunday at Twins if the Reds haven’t clinched a playoff spot)

 

deGrom: 4-2 in 11 starts/63 innings pitched, 2.14 ERA/1.99 FIP/2.43 xFIP, 0.921 WHIP, 94 strikeouts, 16 walks, 13.4% K/9, 0.7 HR/9

Final start: Saturday at Nationals

Burnes: 4-0 in 8 starts/56 innings pitched, 1.77 ERA/1.79 FIP/2.90 xFIP, 0.946 WHIP, 83 strikeouts, 22 walks, 13.3% K/9, 0.2 HR/9

Final start: Thursday vs. Cardinals

Fried: 7-0 in 10 starts/55 innings pitched, 1.96 ERA/2.62 FIP/3.92 xFIP, 1.055 WHIP, 50 strikeouts, 19 walks, 8.2 K/9, 0.0 HR/9

Final start: Wednesday vs. Marlins

Lamet: 3-1 in 11 starts/65.1 innings pitched, 2.07 ERA/2.51 FIP/3.92 xFIP, 0.872 WHIP, 89 strikeouts, 19 walks, 12.3 K/9, 0.7 HR/9 

Final start: Saturday at Giants

Darvish and Bauer are the leaders. Darvish had more wins and was on a division-winning team. Bauer had a lower ERA and WHIP, and they were tied in strikeouts. Bauer also led in K/9%, while Darvish led with a lower HR/9. Bauer has the chance to at least temporarily take the lead with a good final start Wednesday. Bauer will likely need a Reds win Wednesday or the chance to pitch again on short rest Sunday to help the Reds clinch a playoff spot to give himself the best shot at winning. 

Darvish can win by having an excellent start against the White Sox on Friday. 

DeGrom will need to have another elite start Saturday and likely have Darvish and Bauer falter to jump them. But if the numbers are still close after their final starts, deGrom might win on name recognition and being the back-to-back Cy Young winner. 

Burnes has had an excellent season, although he was unlisted everywhere preseason to win the Cy Young. The only place that eventually listed Burnes was Westgate, which opened him 200-1 after I requested it. But while smart enough to request it, I was not smart enough to bet it. I think having fewer innings than Darvish, Bauer and deGrom hurts Burnes the most, and I’d still put Bauer ahead of Burnes. It’s unlikely both the Reds and Brewers make the playoffs, and whoever is on the non-playoff team likely will drop to no better than fourth place in the voting. 

Fried has done nothing to hinder serious Cy Young consideration, with an MLB-leading 0.0 HR/9 and seven wins in 10 starts. What hurts him is his low strikeouts and K/9 rate. He also had an IL stint that dropped his numbers. He would be a deserving winner, but the Braves’ ace is likely a runner-up.

The final contender is Lamet, whose numbers compare with deGrom’s and Bauer’s. The Padres’ ace needs an elite final start against the Giants and poor performances from Bauer, Darvish and deGrom to move up in the voting. Like Fried, he’ll likely have to settle for some runner-up votes. 

AL Cy Young

Shane Bieber has locked up the AL Cy Young Award. The only question is where he finishes in the MVP race. 

NL Rookie of the Year

This was Dustin May’s award to lose, and he lost it. Ian Anderson and Sixto Sanchez came up and provided the Braves and Marlins, respectively, with quality starts, but 26.2 and 36 innings won’t be enough to make serious cases for either. Tony Gonsolin pitched well enough to be seriously considered, but I don’t think anyone posted odds on him.  

I ignored Brewers middle reliever Trevor Williams all season. I don’t think I saw odds on him anywhere. Williams deserves recognition, not just for his 3-1 record over 20 appearances but for his 0.39 ERA and 18.39% strikeout rate. That’s an elite rate not just for a rookie but in all of baseball. But he’s a middle reliever on a .500 club that’s not even guaranteed a playoff spot. He should get some votes and might even get a few first-place votes, but he’ll likely finish as the first or second runner-up. 

The two contenders for the NL Rookie of the Year Award are Jake Cronenworth and Alec Bohm. 

Cronenworth is a 26-year-old middle infielder, primarily a second baseman. He was a throw-in when the Padres traded for Tommy Pham last offseason. He was stuck in Triple A with the Rays, having the misfortune of playing the same position as Brandon Lowe. Cronenworth was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 draft. 

Bohm is a 23-year-old third baseman for the Phillies who bats third in the lineup. He was the third overall pick in the 2018 draft. Bohm is first among NL rookies in average and RBIs and second in OPS and ISO. Since Sept. 1, Bohm has 31 hits, the most in MLB. If the Phillies make the playoffs, I think he’ll win the NL ROY.

Cronenworth: 48 games, 47 hits, 25 runs, 4 home runs, 20 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, 16 walks, 26 strikeouts, .303/.370/.886 143 OPS+ , .213 ISO, .377 wOBA, 139 wRC+ 

Bohm: 38 games, 45 hits, 21 runs, 4 home runs, 22 RBIs, 1 stolen base, 14 walks, 30 strikeouts, .333/399/.895 140 OPS+ , .163 ISO, .385 wOBA, 141 wRC+  

AL Rookie of the Year

Kyle Lewis and Luis Robert are fighting it out. Neither has pulled away. I think A’s catcher Sean Murphy deserves serious consideration by virtue of putting up good underlying numbers for a starting catcher.  I’m not sure that argument will fly with voters, but I will lay out the cases for Robert, Lewis and Murphy.

Robert: 51 games, 42 hits, 30 runs, 11 home runs, 30 RBIs, 8 stolen bases, 18 walks, 65 strikeouts, .230/.302/.756 105 OPS+ , .224 ISO, .322 wOBA, 105 wRC+ 

Lewis: 53 games, 36 hits, 36 runs, 11 home runs, 28 RBIs, 3 stolen bases, 33 walks, 61 strikeouts, .278/.383/.853 140 OPS+ , .193 ISO, .370 wOBA, 140 wRC+ 

Murphy: 38 games, 24 hits, 16 runs, 6 home runs, 13 RBIs, 0 stolen bases, 21 walks, 31 strikeouts, .238/.369/.814 129 OPS+ , .208 ISO, .357 wOBA, 131 wRC+ 

Here are their numbers since Sept. 1: 

Robert: 18 games, 6 hits, 8 runs, 1 home run, 6 RBIs, 4 stolen bases, 9 walks, 24 strikeouts, .097/.220/.585 .048 ISO, .184 wOBA, 11 wRC+ 

Lewis: 17 games, 9 hits, 7 runs, 3 home runs, 7 RBIs, 1 stolen base, 12 walks, 23 strikeouts, .161/.304/.643 .179 ISO, .299 wOBA, 92 wRC+ 

Murphy: 11 games, 10 hits, 8 runs, 4 home runs, 8 RBIs, 0 stolen bases, 9 walks, 7 strikeouts, .313/.463/1.151 .375 ISO, .476 wOBA, 212 wRC+ 

I don’t think Murphy is out of it, and he deserves more serious consideration. He was 50-1 before the season and one of my bets, so I’m definitely biased. 

Recap

NL MVP: Freddie Freeman

AL MVP: Jose Abreu

NL Cy Young: Too close to call 

AL Cy Young: Shane Bieber

NL ROY: Alec Bohm

AL ROY: Kyle Lewis, but he’s not running away with it 

No new bets this week, so I’m still at $30.751.36 wagered on MLB futures. Next week I will start grading and going over early winners and losers and talking about what I’ve learned.

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