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Judge, Castellanos garner support for MVP

By Jason Weingarten  () 

MLB awards markets are down pretty much at every shop at the moment except at DraftKings, which is offering the AL and NL MVP markets, and at BetMGM, which posted MVP and Cy Young odds. 

I checked DraftKings on Monday and saw two MVP bets I wanted to add — Aaron Judge to win the AL MVP at 9/1 and Nick Castellanos to win the NL MVP at 50/1. I didn’t get a chance to bet either number Monday, and when I tried Tuesday, Judge had moved to 6/1 while Castellanos was still 50/1. But I had an issue with the kiosk eating tickets, and by the time it started working, DraftKings had repriced Castellanos to 30/1. Timing is everything, and I was on the wrong end of the odds moving and missed the best numbers. But I did make other bets this week. All bets are risking one unit unless specified. For the purpose of this column, one unit equals $500. 

AL MVP 

This week I am betting Aaron Judge to win the AL MVP at DraftKings at 6/1 for 1x unit after missing out on grabbing 9/1. The Yankees were 8-1, and Judge was locked in and leading MLB with six home runs while tied with the Twins’ Nelson Cruz for the RBI lead. 

Every year Mike Trout is the favorite for AL MVP, and he deserves it. But the Angels were 3-7. They lose with Trout in the lineup and they lose with Trout out of the lineup. Maybe things will change, but I have a hard time believing the MVP will go to a guy on a losing team in a 60-game season. BetMGM already dropped Judge to 5/1, and if I were making the odds for the AL MVP market, I’d probably drop him to 4/1 or even consider making Judge and Trout co-favorites around + 300. 

Also in the running would be Franciscor Lindor, Jose Ramirez, Giancarlo Stanton, Matt Chapman, Josh Donaldson and Cruz. I don’t think Alex Bregman really has a shot because I think all Astros will have to put up extraordinary numbers to earn consideration for awards this year. 

NL MVP

I slept on Dodgers shortstop Corey Seager as a serious MVP candidate, but his early play has pushed him toward the front of the conversation. He was 100/1 before the season and was still available at 40/1 and 30/1 at PointsBet, BetMGM in Nevada and DraftKings as late as Sunday. I got some Seager MVP odds of 40/1 and 30/1, but those numbers are gone now, and the best left was 16/1 at BetMGM in New Jersey. 

Seager was leading MLB with nine barrels. He was also first in hard-hit balls, second in hard-hit percentage and second in barrels/PA. He was leading MLB in obscure advanced stats such as xSlugging and xwOBA. He looks healthy and is hitting everything right now. I’m hoping the Dodgers move him higher in the order, ideally swapping him with Cody Bellinger, who has started the season in the same slump in which he ended last season. I would like to see Seager and Bellinger’s MVP odds flip in the next week or 10 days.

Seager’s main competition for NL MVP will likely come from teammate Mookie Betts. Non-Dodgers contenders include Christian Yelich, Ronald Acuna, Nolan Arenado, Bryce Harper, Fernando Tatis Jr. and Nick Castellanos. 

I’m not very interested in Yelich or Acuna at their respective prices of 12/1 and 15/1. The non-Dodgers I think have the best shot at MVP consideration are Padres shortstop Tatis and Reds outfielder/DH Castellanos. Castellanos won NL Player of the Week for the first week of the season. Through his first 10 games with the Reds he was hitting .382/.462/.912 with three doubles, five home runs and 12 RBIs. The Reds were only 5-5, but his numbers have been excellent, and I am adding a 1x unit bet on Castellanos to win NL MVP at 30/1. I’m disappointed I missed out at 50/1, but I think there’s still value at 30/1 compared with the guys in front of him like Yelich, Bellinger and Acuna, whose numbers have been unimpressive so far.

Cy Young 

NL

deGrom + 280

Scherzer + 450

Flaherty + 800

Buehler 10/1

Strasburg 11/1

Castillo 12/1

Bauer 12/1

Gray 14/1

(numbers from BetMGM)

I am fairly confident that the NL Cy Young winner will be one of these pitchers, but I think it’s too early to really rank guys after only two starts. 

AL

Cole + 280

Bieber + 280

Snell + 900

Glasnow + 900

Clevinger + 1000

Verlander + 1200 

Morton + 1600

Giolito + 2000

Lynn + 2000

(numbers from BetMGM)

I think Lance Lynn should be higher than Justin Verlander, who is likely done for the season. Right now it’s a race between Gerrit Cole and Shane Bieber, but I’d like to see at least another start or two from both before it officially becomes a two-horse race. 

Rookie of the Year

AL

Kyle Lewis had 17 hits in the Mariners’ first 11 games with three home runs and nine RBIs, very good numbers for any rookie. He also had 19 strikeouts in 44 at-bats, and regression is coming. He has been very good and has put his name into the Rookie of the Year conversation. I don’t think he’ll keep up these numbers, though. 

Nate Pearson of the Blue Jays pitched five innings in his first MLB start. He gave up no earned runs on two hits and two walks with five strikeouts. Very respectable stuff for a first major-league start. Jesus Luzardo, another ROY contender, was making his debut as a starter for the A’s on Tuesday. 

The Astros’ Cristian Javier is another guy who should be on the radar after making his first MLB start against the Dodgers and pitching 5.2 innings while giving up only two hits, one walk and one earned run with eight strikeouts against the best lineup in baseball. Unfortunately, nobody put up odds on Javier except the Westgate, and only because I requested him. If anyone puts Rookie of the Year odds back up, I will have my eye on him.

Unfortunately for Pearson, Luzardo, Lewis, Javier and the rest of the AL ROY class, they are competing against Luis Robert. Through the first 10 games of his major-league career, the White Sox’s center fielder was hitting .350/.409/.575 with 14 hits, two home runs, six RBIs and three stolen bases. He’s leading all AL position players in fWAR at 0.9, and the White Sox have moved him to leadoff. He’s the AL Rookie of the Year front-runner until further notice. 

NL

I had to ask a friend to help me figure out the NL Rookie of the Year after 11 games. We concluded there is no winner yet. 

Dustin May has started twice for the Dodgers. He has pitched 7.2 innings over two starts with seven strikeouts and only two walks and two earned runs. His 10 hits is a lot but slightly misleading, as they’ve almost all been soft-contact hits. His 2.00 FIP is nice, and he was leading MLB in average velocity on his four-seam fastball at 98.9 mph. But it’s only seven innings, and nobody is winning an award based on seven innings of pitching.

Carter Kieboom had four hits and three walks in 12 plate appearances, but he had played only three games because the Nationals’ schedule had been messed up due to the coronavirus. Nico Hoerner is playing almost every day for the Cubs and had seven hits in 26 at-bats with five RBIs. I tried to find a way to make Hoerner’s stats sound exciting, but I couldn’t. 

Spencer Howard of the Phillies has had his debut delayed by coronavirus scheduling issues. It might still happen this week. Monte Harrison is being called up by the Marlins, so he’ll have the opportunity to play every day.. 

This Week's Bets Recap:

$500 to win $3,000 on Aaron Judge to win AL MVP

$500 to win $15,000 on Nick Castellanos to win NL MVP

This week I bet a total of $1,000. Combined with the $16,650 I’ve already bet, I have $17,650 worth of MLB futures.

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