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Betts, Tatis Jr Deadlocked in Latest 2020 NL MVP Odds

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in MLB Baseball

Updated Sep 15, 2020 · 8:21 PM PDT

Los Angeles Dodgers right fielder Mookie Betts swings at a pitch
Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts launching a ball deep. Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire.
  • Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr are co-favorites to win the 2020 National League MVP award at +250
  • Betts has made up considerable ground on Tatis in the last week, moving from +575 to +250
  • LA and San Diego have the two best records in the NL

Less than one week ago, San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr was the heavy favorite to earn 2020 National League MVP honors, sitting at +124 on average.

But now, the young star’s odds are at +250 — while Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts, the preseason favorite — has seen his odds improve from +575 to draw even with Tatis at +250.

2020 NL MVP Odds

Player Team Odds on Sept. 9 Odds on Sept. 15
Fernando Tatis Jr. Padres +124 +250
Mookie Betts Dodgers +575 +250
Freddie Freeman Braves +2350 +450
Corey Seager Dodgers +2350 +700
Marcell Ozuna Braves +3300 +800
Juan Soto Nationals +1100 +900
Manny Machado Padres +1700 +1400
Trea Turner Nationals +2400 +1800

Odds as of Sep. 15.

Tatis and Betts have been top-three favorites to in the NL MVP odds dating back to February. Since Sep. 9, the two front runners have comparable statistics.

Tatis has been mired in a mini-slump, going 2-for-18 in five games since last Wednesday. He’s scored a run, driven in a run, and both hits were only singles. He’s seen his batting average drop 10 points, from .303 to .293, and his OPS plummet 50 points, from 1.039 to .989.

Meantime, Betts hasn’t fared much  better. The 2018 AL MVP has gone 4-for-22 in five games over the same stretch. But there’s been significantly more production in those ABs. Betts has scored three times, driven in three runs, and hit two homers. His batting average has dropped eight points, going from .307 to .299, and his OPS has dipped from .994 to .983.

Why the major improvement in odds? What’s on the horizon for both players says it all.

Smart Betts

In case you didn’t already know, Betts can do it all.

He started at second base for LA last Thursday. It was the first time the $365-million man – who was drafted as a second baseman – started at the keystone spot in six years. The move just shows this is a guy who will do whatever it takes for his team.

Meantime, with 12 games left heading into Tuesday night’s action against San Diego, Betts has owned his remaining opponents in 2020. The outfielder has a combined .408 batting average, hit seven home runs, and driven in 15 runs against the Padres, Rockies, and Angels. The A’s are also on the Dodgers’ remaining schedule. Those stats portend of a strong finish for the diminutive, yet do-it-all star. Then, there’s this:

Not Promising

Tatis made a splash earlier this season by starting a “grand slam cycle” of sorts (the Padres had a slam in four straight games during a historic stretch in August).

But his prospects for finishing strong in 2020 are not promising.

With 10 games remaining against the Dodgers, Mariners, Angels, and Giants, Tatis may very well struggle. Against those opponents in 2020, Tatis has a measly .211 batting average, only four home runs, and 10 RBI. He’s under the Mendoza Line (.200 batting average) against the last three teams. This is not good and likely a key reason bettors are clearly fading Tatis.

Rest of the Pack

It’s interesting to note the top-eight contenders on the board are from only four teams. And three of those four teams (LA, San Diego, and Atlanta) are the three best teams in the Senior Circuit. While Juan Soto and Trea Turner have had marvelous seasons (especially Soto, who missed some early games due to COVID-19), Washington is unlikely to qualify for the expanded 2020 postseason. That probably eliminates the DC duo.

So is there value betting on Freddie Freeman, Corey Seager, Marcell Ozuna, or Manny Machado?

Freeman is a possible sleeper in this spot. His stats compare favorably to Betts and Tatis.

2020 NL MVP Top 3 Contenders

Player BA (NL Rank) HR (NL Rank) RBI  (NL Rank)
Fernando Tatis Jr. .293 (19) 15 (T1) 40 (T3)
Mookie Betts .299 (T16) 15 (T1) 35 (T7)
Freddie Freeman .343 (5) 11 (T11) 44 (1)

The four-time All-Star owns a coronavirus comeback of his own: the Braves first baseman feared for his life earlier this summer prior to the season starting.

Plus, after going 1,383 games without a grand slam, he did this in games number 1,384 and 1,385.

If you’re interested in a longer price, Freeman is certainly worth a long look.

That said, Betts has the leg-up. He has four games remaining in Denver, and he’s already gone 8-for-16 with three homers and six RBI against Colorado this season. Plus, the Dodgers have been downright dominant in 2020 and Betts would be a worthy winner.

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