2023 MLB Futures: Best Bets, Value Plays to Win AL and NL MVP Awards

By Zachary Cohen  (VSiN.com) 

March 29, 2023 02:47 PM

Best Bets and Value Plays to Win American League and National League MVP Awards 

The 2023 MLB season is finally here and we're looking forward to making some money with all of you this year. A lot of our experts have already put some plays on our Pro Picks page, so make sure you head over there and hop on some bets with us. Also, you should make sure you check out all of Adam Burke's MLB season preview content. Nobody on the planet is doing a better job of getting you prepared for this baseball season, and reading his work is sure to make you a smarter bettor. With that said, we realize we haven't yet given out some of our favorite bets to win the MVP award in the American League and National League yet. So, keep reading to find out four players we're targeting to do so on the futures market. 

Best Bet to Win American League MVP Award 

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (+1200)

In 2021, Guerrero Jr. hit .311 with 48 homers and 111 RBIs while also having an on base percentage of .401 and a slugging percentage of .601. The 2022 season ended up being a bit of a drag for the slugger, with Guerrero batting .274 with only 32 homers and 97 RBIs in 160 games. But this is still one of the most dangerous hitters in baseball, and the Blue Jays are a popular pick to win the AL East.

Guerrero’s launch angle dropped from 2021 to 2022, and that resulted in fewer bombs for the 24-year-old. However, that gives him a clear idea of what he needs to work on to get back to hitting at least 40 home runs. Look for Guerrero to prioritize getting under the ball a little more this season, and don’t be surprised if he bounces back and becomes one of the best power hitters in the game again.

If Guerrero turns in another season with 40 homers and 100 RBIs and the Jays do end up being a playoff team, he’ll be firmly in the mix to win the MVP. Both of those things seem very realistic, so you can do a lot worse than backing him at these odds.

Best Value Play to Win American League MVP Award 

Jeremy Pena, Houston Astros (+5000)

The Astros are the defending World Series champions and they’re the favorites to win it all again this year. If the Astros are going to repeat, it will take some tremendous individual years from some of Houston’s stars. And having a great year for a great team is one of the easiest ways to get yourself in the MVP conversation.

With a team as deep as the Astros, the hardest part is figuring out which player to bet on. But we like the value on Pena, who was the World Series MVP for Houston. Last season, Pena hit .253 with 22 homers and 63 RBIs as a rookie, and he took things to another level in the postseason. Over 13 playoff games, Pena hit .345 with four homers and eight RBIs for the Astros. And having tasted that type of success in the most difficult time of the year, the regular season should feel like a breeze for Pena.

There’s no guarantee Pena will be the player that ends up shining brightest for Houston. In fact, Yordan Alvarez is one of the favorites to win the AL MVP award. But Pena has as good a chance as anybody outside of Alvarez, and it wouldn’t surprise anybody if he ends up emerging as this team’s best player faster than expected. Pena showed up to Spring Training looking jacked beyond belief, and he hit .324 with three homers and nine RBIs in 11 games played there. This is simply a very confident young player and these odds seem extremely generous.

Best Bet to Win National League MVP Award 

Trea Turner, Philadelphia Phillies (+800)

Turner is coming off the best season of his MLB career, as he hit .298 with 21 homers and 100 RBIs. Now, Turner is heading to a Phillies team that is fresh off a run to the World Series. Turner also happens to be the hottest player in baseball heading into the season, with the 29-year-old having absolutely lit up the World Baseball Classic and MLB Spring Training.

In six games at the WBC, Turner ended up hitting .391 with five homers and 11 RBIs. Turner brought that hot bat over to the MLB preseason, as he batted .478 with two homers and seven RBIs in eight Spring Training games. Of course, none of these numbers are sustainable over the course of a full season, but Turner is one of the most confident hitters on the planet. We’re seeing exactly why Philadelphia shelled out $300 million over 11 years for his services, and now we’re looking to him to make a significant leap in his first season with the Phillies.

The only thing holding Turner back is that he will likely be Philadelphia’s leadoff hitter all season. That might result in a relatively low RBI total, but he will be a threat to lead MLB in runs scored, while also hitting over .300, hitting for power and stealing nearly 30 bases. That makes him worth a bet, even at odds that don’t seem all that favorable.  

Best Value Play to Win National League MVP Award

Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves (+2500)

There wasn’t a player in the league that looked better than Olson in Spring Training this year, as the first baseman hit .426 with eight homers and 18 RBIs in 18 games played. Last year, Olson was a little disappointing in his first year in a Braves uniform, as he batted just .240 with an on base percentage of .325, which was the second-lowest mark in his six full seasons in MLB. Olson did, however, hit 34 homers and had 103 RBIs, so he still did plenty of damage at the plate. And there are reasons to believe he’ll turn things around as a pure hitter this season.

For starters, Olson is going to be a little more comfortable in Atlanta after having spent a full year there. It can be hard playing your first season with a new team, especially when you spent your entire young career playing for the same team. With Olson now having a better feel for what it’s like to be a part of this stacked Braves team, he should already be expected to play a bit better in 2023. Olson also stands to be one of the players that benefits the most from the change in MLB’s shift rules. Olson was 11th in the league in hard hit percentage last year, but he only batted .240. Those numbers have everything to do with how teams were able to prepare for his at-bats, but it’ll be harder for defenses to keep him off base this season.

If Olson sees his batting average rise to .260 or so, he’ll be an MVP candidate if he hits 35 or more homers and drives in over 100 RBIs. The latter two numbers are very realistic for a player of his caliber, especially hitting second in a stacked Braves lineup. And a .260 average isn't an unreasonable ask of a player that has reached that mark twice in his career. 

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