I’m going to run through my favorite bets that are widely available at various nationally branded sportsbooks. I’m using odds from BetMGM, FanDuel and DraftKings this week.
My pick: Corey Seager
Best odds available: 15-1 DraftKings, 15-1 FanDuel, 12-1 BetMGM
Seager was last year’s NLCS and World Series MVP and would likely be the Cactus League MVP if there were such a thing. In 15 spring training games, Seager had 14 hits, nine runs, six home runs and 13 RBIs and a .400/.475/1.389 slash line. The Dodgers’ shortstop is batting second behind Mookie Betts and is still available at double-digit odds for MVP. I’ve bet this multiple times already, and it’s my only NL MVP future to start the season. Seager is in a contract year, and an MVP award would likely make him one of the highest-paid free agents in MLB history next winter.
My pick: Shohei Ohtani
Best odds available: 33-1 DraftKings, 30-1 BetMGM, 25-1 FanDuel
Last year I bet Ohtani to be the AL MVP, and he proceeded to give up six runs in the first inning of his first start without getting an out. My bet didn’t even make it through the first inning of Ohtani’s first start.
This year I promised myself I wasn’t going to bet Ohtani again, yet sure enough, a week into spring training I had convinced myself to bet him to win the AL MVP. This time it will be different.
Ohtani has looked impressive as a batter and a pitcher this spring. Early indications from the Angels are that they plan to let him play as much as his body will let him. I am rehashing the same argument I used for Ohtani to win the MVP in 2020, and it’s essentially the same: Ohtani is the only player in MLB who can throw 99 mph and average a strikeout an inning while hitting 400-foot home runs on a regular basis. The Angels have even been experimenting with batting Ohtani at the top of the order this spring. There’s no real modern comparison. If Ohtani stays healthy and gets 450 at-bats with, say, 25 home runs while pitching 120+ quality innings with a strikeout per inning and a 3.50 or less ERA at the top of the Angels’ rotation, it will be hard to make a case that he isn’t the most valuable player in baseball.
The downside is that he’s still teammates with Mike Trout, the perennial AL MVP favorite and best player in baseball. But Trout doesn’t throw 99 mph. The road map to an Ohtani MVP is him staying healthy and the Angels making the playoffs. If both those things happen, Ohtani will likely be in the MVP conversation late in the season.
NL Cy Young
My pick: Jacob deGrom
Best odds available: DraftKings + 425, BetMGM + 400, FanDuel + 380
DeGrom opened at + 500 and has been bet down a bit at most books, though at + 425 or + 400, it’s still a good bet. His spring numbers, in case you need some convincing: nine innings pitched, three hits, one run, one walk, 16 strikeouts. In his last start March 16, he was throwing 100 mph in the first inning to go along with his 94.9-mph slider. Had the 2020 season gone two weeks or a month longer, deGrom would likely be the reigning Cy Young Award winner. I think deGrom will regain the title and win his third Cy Young while likely leading the NL in strikeouts for the third consecutive year.
AL Cy Young
My pick: None
I didn’t find a number on a pitcher I liked enough to bet for AL Cy Young. I’m sure I’ll find one or more after the season starts, but preseason I’m not super compelled to bet Gerrit Cole or Shane Bieber at short odds. I’m going to wait.
NL Rookie of the Year
Best bets right now: Ian Anderson + 750 at DraftKings, Dylan Carlson + 900 at DraftKings
I haven’t bet either of these yet. I bet Ke’Bryan Hayes at 7-1 at the Westgate and haven’t bet anything in the NL ROY market since. I don’t understand why SIxto Sanchez is priced ahead of Ian Anderson, though. Anderson is starting for the Braves and will likely pitch more innings and contribute on a likely playoff team, while the Marlins’ Sanchez will pitch 120 innings on likely the last-place team in the NL East. Dylan Carlson is a starting outfielder for the Cardinals and looks like an MLB regular. This week I watched him hit a home run at Roger Dean Stadium in Florida, the worst home run ballpark in the Grapefruit League. Carlson will put up the counting stats to compete with Hayes for ROY.
AL Rookie of the Year
Best bet right now: Andrew Vaughn 25-1 FanDuel
Randy Arozarena is the favorite and deserves to be after his 2020 postseason performance for the Rays. But I can’t bet him at + 350. Mariners outfielder Jarred Kelenic is a more compelling choice, but he opened 25-1 at Westgate and was immediately bet down (by me) to 8-1. Andrew Vaughn is still 25-1 at FanDuel, and that’s a playable number for a guy who’ll likely start for the White Sox on opening day. I can’t recommend betting any AL starting pitchers at the current odds. I’d need 50-1 or 100-1 to really consider any of the AL starting pitchers this early. FanDuel is the only book with odds on Bobby Witt Jr., and at 25-1, he’s compelling but not that compelling for a guy whose timeline puts him in the majors in June at the earliest. If you have access to FanDuel, I’d bet the Vaughn number. Otherwise I’d probably wait. Kelenic and Arozarena are fairly priced, and both have a chance to separate from the field early.
The Brewers are + 300 at DraftKings and + 310 at FanDuel, and BetMGM is an even better + 375. If you have access to BetMGM, I’d bet the Brewers to win the NL Central at + 375 this week.
Home Run Leader
My pick: Yordan Alvarez
Best available odds: 20/1 DraftKings and BetMGM, 18-1 FanDuel
I am a big Yordan Alvarez fan and look forward to seeing him play this year with healthy knees. He had surgery on both knees and sat out most of last season. He’s an elite hitter and should bounce back. I’m betting on him to hit the most home runs.