The Phillies swept the Mets last weekend and led the NL East by two games heading into Tuesday night’s action. The Mets had lost four straight and 11 of their last 15. The Mets started a homestand Tuesday against the Nationals, getting three games to try to recover before opening a 13-game stretch against the Dodgers and Giants.
Meanwhile, the Phillies had won eight of their last 10 games and opened a three-game homestand against the Dodgers. Bryce Harper has seen his MVP odds drop from 50-1 all the way to 275, while Zack Wheeler has become the favorite for NL Cy Young Award. We will have a much clearer picture of the NL West and NL East races after the Mets finish their stretch against the California teams.
NL Cy Young
Zack Wheeler 185
Walker Buehler 275
Zack Wheeler 160
Walker Buehler 370
Zack Wheeler 185
Walker Buehler 260
Instead of Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom winning the NL Cy Young, the leader is a pitcher the Mets didn’t re-sign. Wheeler has a 10-6 record with a 2.42 ERA and leads MLB with 181 strikeouts and a 0.99 WHIP. Buehler has gone at least six innings in 21 of his 22 starts for the Dodgers and sports a 12-2 record, 2.13 ERA, 152 strikeouts and 0.93 WHIP. Let’s look at each player’s last 30 days.
Wheeler: 2.97 ERA, 36.1 innings, 2 complete games, 12 earned runs, 3 home runs, 36 strikeouts/8 walks
Buehler: 1.35 ERA, 33.1 innings, 0 complete games, 5 earned runs, 0 home runs, 38 strikeouts/12 walks
As you can see, it’s very close between the top two contenders. Wheeler has two complete games in the last 30 days and three this season, compared with zero for Buehler. But aside from that, it’s hard to see why Wheeler is trading at a discount. If I had access to Buehler 370, I’d bet that this week. I’d make Wheeler and Buehler co-favorites, but I suspect some East Coast bias is at play here.
DraftKings (last week’s odds; none posted this week)
Fernando Tatis Jr. 100
Bryce Harper 275
Max Muncy 450
Trea Turner 800
Freddie Freeman 1200
Nick Castellanos 4500
Manny Machado 5000
Juan Soto 6000
Joey Votto 6000
Jacob deGrom 7000
Brandon Crawford 7000
Fernando Tatis Jr. 100 (-125)
Bryce Harper 270 ( 6000)
Max Muncy 460 ( 400)
Trea Turner 850 ( 350)
Freddie Freeman 1200 ( 750)
Joey Votto 5500 ( 1000)
Manny Machado 6500 ( 6000)
Jacob deGrom 7000 ( 3000)
Juan Soto 8000 ( 7000)
Nick Castellanos 4800 ( 7000)
Fernando Tatis Jr. -110 (-130)
Bryce Harper 400 ( 5000)
Trea Turner 750 ( 325)
Max Muncy 500 ( 400)
Freddie Freeman 800 ( 750)
Jacob deGrom 4000 ( 2500)
Nick Castellanos/Manny Machado 5000 ( 10000)
Juan Soto 6600 ( 10000)
Joey Votto 8000 ( 10000)
The big news in the NL MVP market is Harper’s ascent to second favorite behind Fernando Tatis Jr. Tatis was taking batting practice and fielding balls in the outfield Monday, and some are speculating he could play the outfield when he returns in an attempt to relieve wear and tear on his injured shoulder.
Harper has been one of the catalysts for the Phillies’ strong second-half performance. The sweep of the Mets has helped drop Harper’s MVP odds from as high as 60-1 last week to as low as 270. This week’s Dodgers-Phillies series will be a good showcase for Harper to solidify his status near the top of the board, although Max Muncy and several other Dodgers will get a chance to pad their offensive stats against Phillies pitching.
Let’s look at the last 30-day offensive numbers for the contenders.
Tatis Jr. (injured): 11 runs, 14 hits, 3 doubles, 3 home runs, 10 RBIs, 16 strikeouts/7 walks, 3 stolen bases, .304/.396/.565
Harper: 18 runs, 27 hits, 12 doubles, 5 home runs, 11 RBIs, 15 strikeouts/21 walks, 5 stolen bases, .351/.495/.701
More than half of Harper’s hits — 17 of 27 — over the last 30 days have been for extra bases. He has more walks than strikeouts with five home runs and five stolen bases. Those are MVP numbers before even looking at his slash line. The Dodgers series will go a long way in showing that Harper’s numbers aren’t a function of facing bad pitching.
I think the Harper number is artificially low and will remain low because DraftKings, FanDuel and most other outlets booking MLB player futures have more bettors in legal states like Pennsylvania and New Jersey as opposed to Nevada or Colorado. Those East Coast bettors are more likely to bet East Coast players than, say, Tatis or Muncy. The value is gone, and I don’t think we’ll see the number come back on Harper.
Muncy: 12 runs, 23 hits, 5 doubles, 5 home runs, 15 RBIs, 16 strikeouts/7 walks, 1 stolen base, .315/.398/.548
His numbers are respectable but probably not of MVP caliber. I’d put Muncy behind Tatis and Harper right now. He needs to do more if he wants to stay in the race.
Turner: N/A (recently traded to Dodgers)
I’m skipping Turner’s numbers because I don’t think his pre-Dodgers stats really matter, and with just over 50 games left, I’m not sure he’ll have enough time in the Dodgers’ lineup to make a serious case to be the first MVP to change teams midseason. I would keep an eye on Turner’s MVP odds for 2022, but I don’t think he’s going to win it this year.
Freeman: 24 runs, 32 hits, 1 double, 5 home runs, 13 RBIs, 8 strikeouts/11 walks, 2 stolen bases, .376/.449/.565
Freeman and Harper have jumped Soto for MVP. Freeman has comparable numbers to Harper over the last 30 days, and the Braves were only two games behind the Phillies in the NL East. With the Padres, Reds and the NL East losers fighting for the final wild-card spot, someone will be left out, and the MVP is likely to come from a playoff team. It might take the Braves winning the NL East to get Freeman back into serious MVP consideration. Freeman was available at 50-1 just a few weeks ago, and the value is mostly gone now, but 1200 at DraftKings is compelling if you think the Phillies can’t sustain their recent success.
Votto: 18 runs, 29 hits, 4 doubles, 12 home runs, 29 RBIs, 23 strikeouts/13 walks, 0 stolen bases, .330/.413/.784
Votto is another guy who’s on fire. Twelve home runs in a month will get anyone into the MVP conversation. Cincinnati will likely need to make the playoffs for any Reds player to have a shot at the MVP, and Votto would get the votes over Castellanos. Votto probably has the best odds of all the long shots left, and 80-1 is available at FanDuel.
Machado: 18 runs, 30 hits, 8 doubles, 6 home runs, 18 RBis, 18 strikeouts/4 walks, 0 stolen bases, .345/.366/.644
Machado’s performance gets overshadowed playing next to Tatis, but his numbers have been consistently elite. If Tatis doesn’t come back or reinjures himself, Machado might jump up in the odds, but he’s kind of in the same boat as Freeman and Votto. The MVP chances for Machado, Votto and Freeman are all tied to their teams making the playoffs.
As for Soto and deGrom, thanks for playing. DeGrom never had a great shot of winning the MVP if he pitched fewer than 200 innings. Soto is one of my favorite players and might be the best player in MLB besides Mike Trout, but the Nationals are just going through the motions and Soto won’t win MVP on a listless team like the Nats. He’ll be back at the top of the board with low odds in 2022.
NL Rookie of the Year
Jonathan India -130
Trevor Rogers 100
Trevor Rogers -140
Jonathan India 105
Rookie of the Year (and all MLB awards) are more about how you finish than how you start, and Rogers has fallen off a bit. He had pitched 8.2 innings over the last 30 days, which isn’t helping his case, and his ERA jumped from 2.73 in June to 4.08 in July.
To make matters worse, the Marlins being so far out of contention means they have no incentive to push his innings limit this year, so he’s likely to have starts skipped or end up sidelined with a fake injury down the stretch. Rogers might have to settle for being an All-Star while watching someone else, probably India, take home the Rookie of the Year hardware.
India’s numbers have continued to get better while Rogers’ have regressed. India was still available at 500 about a week ago, but the market has finally started to correct itself. India’s last-30-day numbers look like this:
24 runs, 29 hits, 7 doubles, 7 home runs, 13 RBIs, 28 strikeouts/15 walks, 1 stolen base, .305/.426/.600
If the season ended today, I think India would get more votes than Rogers, and I think a month from now it will not be close.
AL Rookie of the Year
Adolis Garcia 275
Randy Arozarena 300
Luis Garcia 350
Akil Baddoo 550
Andrew Vaughn 800
Eric Haase 1000
Adolis Garcia 225
Randy Arozarena 275
Luis Garcia 350
Akil Baddoo 425
Eric Haase 1000
Andrew Vaughn 1200
A. Garcia: 8 runs, 13 hits, 5 doubles, 2 home runs, 5 RBIs, 25 strikeouts/6 walks, 0 stolen bases, .165/.233/.304
While 24 home runs is nice, and he’ll probably hit at least 30 before the season is over, I’m at a loss to explain why Garcia is still the AL Rookie of the Year favorite. His numbers for the last 30 days are awful, and if the Rangers had anyone to give at-bats to, Garcia would be back at Triple A. Like the Marlins’ Rogers, I think Garcia will have to settle for being an All-Star rather than rookie of the year. Home runs are impressive and they make for good highlights, but just hitting for empty power with high strikeouts because your team has no one better to play doesn’t make you rookie of the year.
Arozarena: 14 runs, 23 hits, 5 doubles, 6 home runs, 11 RBIs, 21 strikeouts/3 walks, 0 stolen bases, .338/.384/.706
Arozarena was just heating up and saw his ROY odds drop from 19-1 to about 3-1, so naturally he had to go on the COVID-19 injured list. I’d still rank him ahead of Garcia, though, and it looks like he’ll be back in the Rays’ lineup this week. Not a ton of value, but he should probably be the favorite right now.
L. Garcia: 4.22 ERA, 21.1 innings pitched, 19 hits, 11 runs, 10 ER, 3 home runs, 32 strikeouts/3 walks.
Garcia’s underlying numbers are pretty decent, especially his strikeout-to-walk rate. Very impressive stuff both over the last 30 days and the whole season (129 strikeouts vs. 32 walks in 106.2 innings). He’s projected to max out about 150 to 160 innings and he’ll get some consideration, especially if he flirts with 200 strikeouts. But I think being on the Astros will hurt him. I’m not betting on him at 350.
Baddoo: 16 runs, 24 hits, 4 doubles, 5 home runs, 19 RBIs, 23 strikeouts/4 walks, 1 stolen base, .261/.292/.489
His numbers are fine, considering he’s a Rule 5 pick who never played above A ball before starting for the Tigers this year. But that’s way too many strikeouts to seriously consider him. And a sub-.300 OBP wouldn’t get my vote or my money in the futures pool. Respectable numbers, but the ROY is going to someone else.
Haase: 13 runs, 19 hits, 4 doubles, 5 home runs, 19 RBIs, 27 strikeouts/5 walks, 1 stolen base, .238/.287/.475
Haase and Baddoo are teammates, which hurts both, but not as much as a sub-.300 OBP does. And five times as many strikeouts as walks? Baddoo and Haase are all right, but they wouldn’t get at-bats on playoff teams. High strikeouts, low OBP — that’s going to be a no from me.
Vaughn: 12 runs, 23 hits, 4 doubles, 5 home runs, 15 RBIs, 12 strikeouts/7 walks, 0 stolen bases, .311/.378/.568
I saved the best for last. Vaughn’s odds have been on the move for the last week or so, dropping from 20-1 to 8-1 at DraftKings. Vaughn had a great game for the White Sox on national TV Sunday night, hitting a home run and making a nice catch in the outfield, a position he’d never played before spring training this year. With Luis Robert and Eloy Jimenez back, playing time is at a premium on the White Sox, but Vaughn has been one of the team’s best hitters for the last two months. Vaughn is my best bet for AL ROY this week. I’m going to add some more at 12-1 at BetMGM to go with the 50-1 and 100-1 I bet at the beginning of the season.
When it comes time to vote for AL ROY, I think voters will look at Vaughn’s performance and contributions to a playoff team more favorably than the empty stats, high strikeouts/low walks and substandard OBP from the Tigers players. Garcia is lurking, but I think the Astros’ stigma will hurt him, and Arozarena is putting up similar numbers to Vaughn but with higher strikeouts. For me the top three are Vaughn, Arozarena and Garcia. Garcia, Baddoo and Haase have prices that in almost no way reflect their actual chances of winning.
Bet: Andrew Vaughn 1200 at BetMGM
Make/Miss Playoff Bets
DraftKings and FanDuel have make/miss playoff odds. These are some of the numbers I bet this week risking one unit, or $500 each:
Blue Jays Yes 115
Mets No 180
Braves Yes 225
Padres No 300
Astros No 750
Phillies Yes 100
Yankees Yes -110