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MLB award races shaken up

By Jason Weingarten  (VSiN.com) 

weingarten

A lot has changed since we last talked about MLB individual player awards. For example:

— In the NL MVP race, Ronald Acuna Jr. tore his ACL and Fernando Tatis Jr. suffered a left shoulder subluxation for the third time this season, prompting a trip to the injured list and potentially season-ending surgery.

— In a blow to both his MVP and Cy Young Award chances, Jacob deGrom experienced additional inflammation in his right elbow, and his return has been pushed back to early September.

— News broke late Monday night that Gerrit Cole had tested positive for COVID-19 and would miss at least one start, shaking up a very close AL Cy Young race.

— Max Scherzer and Trea Turner got traded to the Dodgers and have inserted themselves into serious award consideration.

NL MVP

DraftKings

Not listed

FanDuel

Fernando Tatis Jr. -125

Trea Turner + 350

Max Muncy + 400

Freddie Freeman + 750

Jacob deGrom + 3000

Manny Machado + 6000

Bryce Harper + 6000

Juan Soto + 7000

Nick Castellanos + 7000

Brandon Crawford + 7000

Justin Turner + 8000

Buster Posey/Chris Taylor/Joey Votto 100-1

Nolan Arenado/Jake Cronenworth/Jesse Winker/Bryan Reynolds/Willy Adames 120-1

Kris Bryant/Mookie Betts 150-1

BetMGM

Fernando Tatis Jr. -130

Trea Turner + 325

Max Muncy + 400

Freddie Freeman + 750

Jacob deGrom + 2500

Juan Soto/Bryce Harper/Manny Machado/Nick Castellanos/Buster Posey/Brandon Crawford + 5000

Jesse Winker/Joey Votto + 8000

Pete Alonso/Justin Turner/Chris Taylor 100-1

Mookie Betts/Nolan Arenado/Kris Bryant 150-1

Let’s look at the July numbers for the MVP candidates.

Tatis: 88 AB, 17 runs, 24 hits, 6 doubles, 5 home runs, 14 RBI, 29 K/8 BB, 7 SB, .273/.333/.845

Tatis suffered his third left shoulder subluxation last week, is currently on the injured list and faces the possibility of season-ending surgery. Tatis will need surgery at some point; it’s just a question of whether he can delay it until the offseason. Playing through the injury might decrease his power, and Tatis already strikes out a lot, so even if he comes back after a short IL stint, a slump is not out of the question. 

Turner: 74 AB, 16 runs, 25 hits, 2 doubles, 4 home runs, 11 RBI, 11 K/4 BB, 3 SB, .338/.380/.934

Turner is an elite player who wasn’t going to win the MVP playing with Juan Soto in Washington. Now he joins a Dodgers roster with an entire cast of MVP candidates. Turner is on the COVID list but will come back and hit near the top of the Dodgers’ order. If Turner wins, he’ll be the first player in MLB history to win the MVP after being traded midseason. It’s unlikely but possible. 

Muncy: 89 AB, 14 runs, 28 hits, 7 doubles, 5 home runs, 24 RBI, 12 K/12 BB, 1 SB, .315/.402/.964

Muncy has taken over the second spot in the Dodgers’ lineup vacated by Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger due to injuries and poor performance. With the addition of Scherzer and Turner, the Dodgers run the risk of having too many options for voters. I was very invested in Seager before the season, mainly because I thought whoever batted second would have a good chance at MVP, and it has turned out to be Muncy. I was fortunate enough to get MVP tickets on Muncy at 200-1 and 70-1 and again at 50-1, so I am happy to see him trading down to + 400 across the board. 

Freeman: 96 AB, 23 runs, 36 hits, 3 doubles, 6 home runs, 15 RBI, 13 K/16 BB, 2 SB, .375/.470/1.063

Freeman was as high as 50-1 barely two weeks ago and still widely available in the 30s until a few days ago. I never bet on him and hope I don’t regret it as his July numbers across the board are better than Muncy, Turner and Tatis. Freeman came from behind and beat Tatis last year. He could do it again, and a Braves division title might put him in consideration for back-to-back MVP awards.

deGrom: 3.21 ERA 14 IP, 9 hits, 5 ER, 3 home runs, 24 strikeouts, 0 BB

It appears that deGrom will have to come back completely healthy in September and pitch lights-out, sub-2.00 ERA baseball for his final four or five starts to have a chance at the Cy Young. Currently at 92 innings pitched, he has about zero chance of finishing anywhere near the number of innings required to even be considered for MVP. Mark it zero. 

Soto: 90 AB, 24 runs, 32 hits, 3 doubles, 9 home runs, 22 RBI, 15 K/24 BB, 1 SB, .365/.487/.1.176 

Soto is the best player in baseball not named Mike Trout or Shohei Ohtani. He is also likely to be the highest-paid player in baseball in the near future, and he’ll likely never see his MVP odds this high again if he’s healthy — certainly not as high as the 100-1 it hit this week. I have bet Soto to win MVP several times this season, and I’m going to say those 50-1s and 70-1s won’t last much longer. He has better July numbers than Freeman, Muncy, Turner and Tatis. The downside is the Nationals trail in the NL East and just traded two of their best players. They have no bullpen and they’ve blown saves in four of their last six games. But MVP is an individual award. Trout has proven you don’t need to be on a good or winning team to be the MVP, so if Soto puts up the best numbers and the Nationals don’t get near a playoff spot, he still deserves serious MVP consideration.

Machado: 89 AB, 24 runs, 32 hits, 9 doubles, 8 home runs, 25 RBI, 13 K/12 BB, 1 SB, .360/.433/1.163

Machado had a better July than teammate Tatis. He’s another guy who could keep shooting up the list with a good August and September. If Tatis is out for the year, we will definitely see Machado’s odds drop. What I don’t like is that if he wins MVP, it will go to a player on likely the third-place team in the NL West. Machado’s odds were as high as 100-1 at BetMGM this week but have settled at 50-1. 

Harper: 84 AB, 15 runs, 28 hits, 11 doubles, 3 home runs, 15 RBI, 18 K/19 BB, 5 SB, .333/.452/1.023

Nothing wrong with any of these numbers, but I can’t see Harper finishing ahead of Soto, and I’m not sure I’d bet him at any number.  

Castellanos: 42 AB, 6 runs, 9 hits, 2 doubles, 2 home runs, 6 RBI, 13 K/4 BB, .214/.298/.703

Castellanos was putting together a nice season and deserved serious MVP consideration before he got hit by a pitch on his wrist and ended up on the IL. As the stats indicate, his performance before hitting the IL was clearly impacted by the wrist injury. It’s too bad because the Reds went 16-10 in July and could challenge the Padres for a wild-card spot. But Castellanos isn’t likely to win MVP after his wrist injury. 

Posey: 40 AB, 9 runs, 13 hits, 3 doubles, 1 home run, 5 RBI, 8 K/7 BB, 0 SB, .325/.426/.901

Crawford: 55 AB, 8 runs, 25 hits, 5 doubles, 1 home run, 11 RBI, 6 K/7 BB, 3 SB, .455/.508/.1.144

Bryant: 62 AB, 13 runs, 18 hits, 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 10 RBI, 16 K/8 BB, .290/.405/.922

I did all three Giants MVP candidates together. Bryant, like Turner, would be the first player in baseball history to be traded midseason and win the MVP. Crawford has put up impressive numbers all season, and he plays for the team that’s in first place in the NL West. Crawford hit .455 in July. That’s impressive, but he is 21st in batting average for the season, 46th in home runs, 27th in RBIs and tied for 15th in OPS. Can’t see him winning MVP. As for Posey, he’s likely a first-ballot Hall of Famer and leader of the Giants, but he’s unlikely to jump up the MVP board.

Justin Turner: 89 AB, 29 hits, 15 runs, 2 doubles, 7 home runs, 21 RBI, 12 K/6 BB, 0 SB, .326/.402/.986

Betts: 54 AB, 20 hits, 15 runs, 5 doubles, 4 home runs, 11 RBI, 12 K/11 BB, 0 SB, .370/.417/1.102

Taylor: 105 AB, 35 hits, 21 runs, 7 doubles, 7 home runs, 20 RBI, 29K/6 BB, 3 SB, .333/.369/.988

Justin Turner is eighth in wRC+  in baseball since he joined the Dodgers in 2014. His 142 wRC+  ties him with Harper and Joey Votto. Some of the players Turner has outhit since 2014 are Bryant, Betts, Paul Goldschmidt and Jose Altuve. Turner has elite numbers and is a team leader for the Dodgers, but he’s likely to be on the short end of any MVP vote against one of his teammates. 

Betts has been injured on and off this year and has had a down season by his numbers. He’s putting up good numbers but not playing enough games. He could win the NLCS or World Series MVP but is unlikely to win the regular-season MVP.  

Taylor is also having a great season but is unlikely to jump several teammates for MVP. He will get rewarded with a large contract this offseason, so that should provide at least some solace.

Winker: 108 AB, 26 hits, 12 runs, 10 doubles, 2 home runs, 11 RBI, 20 K/10 BB, 1 SB, .241/.311/.700

Votto: 94 AB, 30 hits, 18 runs, 4 doubles, 11 home runs, 25 RBI, 28 K/19 BB, 0 SB, .319/.440/1.174

Votto became the eighth player in MLB history to homer in seven consecutive games and won NL Player of the Month for that. I could see him moving up the list with another big month. Votto is in a similar position to Freeman. Winker, on the other hand, is pretty much dead. He had a hot start but has cooled significantly. 

After laying it out, I think the best bet available in the NL MVP market is still Soto at 70-1 at FanDuel down to the 50-1 number available at BetMGM. My own numbers have Soto much, much lower. 

Tatis is still the favorite until we know more about his latest injury. Muncy is closing in on Tatis, and Soto is closing in on both. 

Rookie of the Year 

Books have started posting Rookie of the Year odds again, so let’s take a look at some of the favorites and see how they did in July.

DraftKings

AL 

Adolis Garcia + 175

Luis Garcia + 300

Akil Baddoo + 330

Randy Arozarena + 500

Eric Haase + 1500

Andrew Vaughn + 2000

NL

Trevor Rogers -160

Jonathan India + 185

FanDuel

AL

Adolis Garcia + 240

Luis Garcia + 320

Akil Baddoo + 370

Randy Arozarena + 410

Eric Haase + 1100

Andrew Vaughn + 2000

NL

Trevor Rogers -175

Jonathan India + 190

BetMGM

NL

Adolis Garcia + 200

Luis Garcia + 300

Akil Baddoo + 325

Randy Arozarena + 450

Eric Haase + 1000

Andrew Vaughn + 1700

Adolis Garcia: 88 AB, 19 hits, 9 runs, 6 doubles, 3 home runs, 8 RBI, 30 strikeouts/4 walks, 1 SB, .216/.274/.660

The Rangers outfielder is trending down. He really fell off in July but still made the All-Star Game after hitting 20 home runs in the first half of the season. He’ll need a strong finish to win, and he’s a big fade for me. I’d rather bet anyone than back Garcia at + 175 or even + 240. 

Luis Garcia: 3.45 ERA, 15.2 IP, 11 hits, 6 ER, 2 home runs, 24 strikeouts, 3 BB

Overpriced. He is contributing big innings in the Astros’ rotation. But his 7-6 won-lost record doesn’t stand out, and he’s looking to max out about 150 or 160 innings. I’m not sure that will cut it with the rest of the field putting up good offensive numbers. 

Baddoo: 96 AB, 24 hits, 18 runs, 4 doubles, 5 home runs, 18 RBI, 19 K/5 BB, 4 SB, .250/.287/.756

The Rule 5 draft pick who’d never played above A ball has played 86 games for the Tigers this year. His numbers are pretty decent when you consider he’s just 22, but the Tigers aren’t great and I’m not sure a .250 hitter is going to cut it. Another fade for me. 

Arozarena: 78 AB, 19 hits, 14 runs, 5 doubles, 4 home runs, 8 RBI, 23 K/6 BB, 0 SB, .244/.314/.775

His numbers aren’t as good this year as they were in the playoffs last season, when he broke Derek Jeter’s rookie playoff records and was one of the Rays’ best hitters. He looks more pedestrian this year. I bet him at 19-1 last week, but I don’t think I’d be running to bet him at + 400 or + 500. 

Haase: 83 AB, 17 runs, 22 hits, 3 doubles, 9 home runs, 29 RBI, 26 K/6 BB, 0 SB, .265/.319/.945

Excellent July numbers, and his full-season numbers look decent as well. If he can keep it up, he’ll see his odds drop to single digits. I’d say he’s quickly gaining on Adolis Garcia and Baddoo, and not even sure I’d put Baddoo in front of him. 

Vaughn: 91 AB, 13 runs, 28 hits, 7 doubles, 4 home runs, 12 RBI, 15 K/5 BB, 0 SB, .308/.347/.863

I bet Vaughn 100-1 in March, so I’m biased. I think he’s better than his current market prices indicate, as 20-1 is a lot for a guy who’s starting and contributing every day to a likely division champion. I’d much rather have Vaughn at 20-1 than Adolis Garcia at + 200 or Baddoo or Arozarena under 5-1.

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