Let’s check in on the races for MLB awards as the regular season nears its end.
Bryce Harper -125
Fernando Tatis Jr. + 105
Max Muncy + 2000
Juan Soto + 3000
Bryce Harper -130
Fernando Tatis Jr. + 110
Max Muncy + 2000
Juan Soto + 3000
Bryce Harper -125
Fernando Tatis Jr. + 100
Max Muncy + 2000
Juan Soto + 3000
Awards races are a lot like horse races. If you’ve watched enough horse racing, you know the horse that’s leading coming down the home stretch doesn’t always hang on at the finish line. Fernando Tatis Jr. is no longer the Most Valuable Player favorite in the National League after occupying that position for most of the season. The Padres went 2-8 on a season-defining road trip, Tatis and Manny Machado fought on camera and multiple San Diego beat writers have written about how manager Jayce Tingler has lost the clubhouse, presaging major offseason changes. I was having trouble seeing how Tatis would hold on and win the MVP before that, and I can’t see him winning it now. If the Padres somehow jumped everyone for the second wild-card spot, Tatis would certainly rejoin the conversation. He continues to show slight signs of life, but it’s probably too little, too late. He’ll end up with great numbers on a non-playoff team and be one of the favorites in next year’s MVP pool. I have no interesting in betting Tatis at any of the available numbers.
Tatis 15-day numbers: 5 runs, 8 hits, 1 double, 2 home runs, 7 RBIs, 9 strikeouts, 4 walks, .326/.380/.500
Tatis 30-day numbers: 10 runs, 25 hits, 6 doubles, 5 home runs, 16 RBIs, 25 strikeouts, 12 walks, .266/.349/.489
Tatis August: 8 runs, 13 hits, 5 doubles, 5 home runs, 11 RBIs, 18 strikeouts, 8 walks, .228/.323/.579
Tatis September: 8 runs, 18 hits, 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 11 RBIs, 12 strikeouts, 8 walks, .300/.382/.500
Bryce Harper is your new MVP favorite. Harper has produced big number for the Phillies in August and September, with 17 home runs over the last two months and 33 total. While Tatis’ numbers have trended down over the last few months, Harper’s have consistently trended up. Harper has some elite slugging numbers, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio is also elite at close to 1:1. The only big drawback I could see is that the Phillies are -450 to miss the playoffs, and that could hurt Harper.
Harper 15-day numbers: 12 runs, 18 hits, 6 doubles, 6 home runs, 16 RBIs, 11 strikeouts, 15 walks, .400/.541/.933
Harper 30-day numbers: 23 runs, 36 hits, 12 doubles, 10 home runs, 28 RBIs, 23 strikeouts, 21 walks, .375/.479/.813
Harper August: 25 runs, 33 hits, 11 doubles, 10 home runs, 25 RBIs, 21 strikeouts, 22 walks, .337/.455/.776
Harper September: 14 runs, 21 hits, 6 doubles, 7 home runs, 17 RBIs, 16 strikeouts, 15 walks, .344/.468/.787
I don’t know why Max Muncy is still 20-1. If I were booking this, I’d probably drop his odds to 50-1 or more. About the only thing Muncy has been doing is hitting home runs. These aren’t MVP-caliber numbers for August and September. It makes no sense to me how Muncy’s odds could be lower than Juan Soto’s.
Muncy 15-day numbers: 9 runs, 10 hits, 3 doubles, 4 home runs, 8 RBIs, 14 strikeouts, 2 walks, .222/.265/.556
Muncy 30-day numbers: 13 runs, 16 hits, 3 doubles, 6 home runs, 10 RBIs, 29 strikeouts, 8 walks, .180/.253/.438
Muncy August: 18 runs, 17 hits, 4 doubles, 7 home runs, 15 RBIs, 26 strikeouts, 12 walks, .189/.291/.467
Muncy September: 10 runs, 13 hits, 3 doubles, 5 home runs, 15 RBIs, 20 strikeouts, 4 walks, .213/.269/.541
Soto is still 30-1 with higher odds than Muncy and Tatis. The fact that Soto is on a 61-win team is hurting his MVP chances, but not as much as it should. The Phillies and Padres are projected to miss the playoffs, so that shouldn’t give Harper and Tatis that much of a leg up in the stretch. Soto trails former teammate Trea Turner by one percentage point for the NL batting title. Soto is second in the NL in runs behind Freddie Freeman, and he leads MLB in walks with 127. That’s 20 more than the next-best player, Joey Gallo, and his closest competition in the NL is Harper at 89. Soto has been walked 38 more times than Harper. That’s to say nothing of Soto’s elite strikeout-to-walk rate. He has walked more than he has struck out, with 127 walks to 83 strikeouts. That’s 1.5 walks for every strikeout.
Soto leads MLB in on-base percentage at .461, with Harper trailing him at .427. Soto is being outslugged. Tatis and Harper lead MLB with a .620 slugging percentage. Soto trails both at .530, but it should be somewhat excusable, as he’s getting on base more than anyone. Soto gets fewer pitches to hit, and when you look at OPS, Harper leads at 1.047 vs. .991 for Soto and .988 for Tatis.
Soto 15-day numbers: 12 runs, 21 hits, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 7 RBIs, 4 strikeouts, 16 walks, .438/.576/.646
Soto 30-day numbers: 21 runs, 33 hits, 3 doubles, 6 home runs, 19 RBIs, 8 strikeouts, 31 walks, .344/.504/.583
Soto August: 19 runs, 21 hits, 4 doubles, 4 home runs, 13 RBIs, 18 strikeouts, 33 walks, .284/.505/.500
Soto September: 14 runs, 27 hits, 2 doubles, 4 home runs, 15 RBIs, 5 strikeouts, 22 walks, .422/.568/.650
And if you want to compare season-long lines:
Harper: 450 at-bats, 93 runs, 140 hits, .311 average, 38 doubles, 33 home runs, 80 RBIs, 118 strikeouts, 89 walks, .311/.427/.620/1.047
Soto: 464 at-bats, 102 runs, 146 hits, .315 average, 18 doubles, 26 home runs, 86 RBIs, 83 strikeouts, 127 walks, .315/.461/.530/.991
Soto has more runs, hits and more RBIs, a higher average, an MLB-leading strikeout-to-walk ratio and an MLB-leading OBP. Harper has more doubles and home runs, a higher slugging percentage and a better OPS. Looking at the remaining games, Harper has two against the Orioles, four against the Pirates and three against the Braves and the Marlins. With the Phillies three games back of the Braves in the NL East and 4.5 games out of the second wild card, that three-game series at Atlanta might go a long way in sealing Harper’s MVP case. Or he could do nothing and leave the door open for Soto.
Soto and the Nationals have two more games against the Marlins followed by a seven-game trip to Cincinnati and Colorado at two very hitter-friendly ballparks. The Nats finish the season at home against the Red Sox. With 12 games left and seven on the road at hitter-friendly parks, I wouldn’t be surprised if Soto made one final push and ended up beating Harper in a photo finish.
I’ve already bet Soto at odds as high as 150-1. If you haven’t bet him yet, I think a review of all these numbers shows Soto is the best bet at 30-1 and the only guy left who could outpace Harper.
AL Rookie of the Year
Randy Arozarena -175
Adolis Garcia + 500
Luis Garcia + 1100
Ryan Mountcastle + 650
Wander Franco + 1500
Randy Arozarena -160
Ryan Mountcastle + 350
Adolis Garcia + 750
Luis Garcia + 1300
Wander Franco + 2500
Randy Arozarena -165
Ryan Mountcastle + 500
Adolis Garcia + 550
Luis Garcia + 1200
Wander Franco + 2000
Wander Franco was charging up the Rookie of the Year odds and was as low as 4-1 until he pulled his hamstring and went on the injured list. It was a minimum-length stay and he’s doing a short rehab stint at Triple-A Durham, expected back in the Rays’ lineup Friday. Franco has a 38-game on-base streak and will come back with nine games left, enough to break the rookie record of 43 set by Frank Robinson. Doing that should be enough to win Rookie of the Year honors, but let’s take a closer look at the contenders’ recent numbers.
Randy Arozarena September: 9 runs, 13 hits, 4 doubles, 1 home run, 6 RBIs, 17 strikeouts, 4 walks, .228/.309/.386
Adolis Garcia September: 5 runs, 12 hits, 3 doubles, 1 home run, 6 RBIs, 21 strikeouts, 3 walks, .188/.229/.281
Ryan Mountcastle September: 11 runs, 15 hits, 1 double, 5 home runs, 10 RBIs, 26 strikeouts, 9 walks, .214/.304/.443
Wander Franco September: 7 runs, 11 hits, 3 doubles, 1 home run 3 RBIs, 1 strikeout, 3 walks, .367/.424/.633
Luis Garcia September: 4.50 ERA, 1-1, 3 starts, 16 IP, 19 hits, 8 ER, 1 home run, 10 strikeouts, 6 walks, .306 opponent batting average
Nobody did anything while Franco has been out. Ryan Mountcastle is the beneficiary of a very strong August, when he hit .357/.397/.786 with eight home runs. Like Adolis Garcia’s May numbers, when he hit .312/.348/.633 with 11 home runs, there is a difference between having one really good month and winning Rookie of the Year.
When you look at season-long numbers, Garcia is striking out 31.3 percent of the time, Randy Arozarena is striking out 27.9 percent of the time and Mountcastle is at 27.3 percent. Those just aren’t Rookie of the Year strikeout rates, especially since Garcia and Mountcastle are on 100-loss teams. When I look at Arozarena, Mountcastle and the Garcias, I see guys who have had good months and average months, but I don’t see anyone who deserves Rookie of the Year.
Meanwhile, Franco should return and bat second or third in the Rays’ lineup by Friday. He is the AL rookie leader in wOBA at .348. Franco is first in wRC at 127 compared to 124 for Arozarena, 114 for Mountcastleand 103 for Adolis Garcia. Garcia is the WAR leader with 2.8, and Arozarena is at 2.5. Franco is third with a 2.2 fWAR, though he has accumulated those 2.2 wins in 62 games, which is much more impressive than Arozarena’s 2.5 in 131 games and Garcia’s 2.8 in 137.
When you look at the numbers, there’s no comparison between Franco and the rest of the AL rookie class. Mountcastle and Garcia are hitting 30 home runs with 30 percent strikeout rates and pedestrian on-base percentages. The last thing AL Rookie of the Year voters will potentially see is Franco coming back and breaking the rookie on-base record. At the very least, Franco will have the chance to get nine more quality games. If Franco ties or breaks Robinson’s record, I think he’ll win Rookie of the Year easily. If he doesn’t break the record but has a good final nine games, I think he’s still very much in the race. Wander Franco at 20-1 at BetMGM or even better 25-1 at FanDuel is a good bet this week.