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Four of the Top-Five NL MVP Favorites Saw Odds Fade; Only Soto Improved

Blair Johnson

by Blair Johnson in MLB Baseball

Updated May 1, 2020 · 6:54 AM PDT

Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto running the bases
Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto. Photo by Keith Allison (Wiki Commons)
  • Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto has seen his 2020 National League MVP odds improve over the last two months, moving from +1100 to +844
  • Odds for the other top NL contenders like Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuna Jr., Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger have all faded in that same timeframe
  • Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman is the only top-15 contender to see his odds improve since Feb. 28

Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto became the breakout star of last postseason. And while teammate Stephen Strasburg was rightfully named the 2019 World Series MVP on the way to the Nats capturing the franchise’s first title, it was Soto who delivered time and again at the plate and in the field.

As such, the 21-year-old  (he won’t turn 22 until Oct. 25) has seen his 2020 National League MVP odds move from +1100 on Feb. 28 to +844. Other top contenders for the award – like Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuna Jr., Christian Yelich and reigning MVP Cody Bellinger – have seen their odds fade.

In fact, the only other player in the top-15 to see their odds shorten is Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman – and he’s a longshot, moving from +2425 to +2046.

2020 National League MVP Average Odds

Player Odds
Mookie Betts +448
Ronald Acuna Jr. +600
Christian Yelich +719
Juan Soto +844
Cody Bellinger +963
Bryce Harper +1375
Fernando Tatis Jr. +1404
Nolen Arenado +1775
Freddie Freeman +2046
Javier Baez +2175
Ketel Marte +2350
Pete Alonso +2735
Kris Bryant +2771
Manny Machado +3146
Eugenio Suarez +3271

Odds taken April 30th

Four of the top six favorites in the 2020 NL MVP odds have already won an MVP award at least once. The two outliers: Acuna Jr. and Soto. This news delights the man who has become “America’s Doctor,” Anthony Fauci. The season will certainly be shortened – but by how much? And why have Soto’s odds improved – while virtually everyone else’s fade? Let’s investigate.

Soto Is So Good

With Anthony Rendon gone, Soto is now the focal point of a solid Nationals offense.

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The outfielder slashed .273/.373/.554 with five home runs and 14 RBI in the 2019 postseason, and those numbers were even better in the Fall Classic (.333/.438/.741, three dingers, seven runs driven in).

Perhaps sharps think Soto’s performance in short series is the main reason why his odds have dropped over the last two months with a shorter season on the horizon. Once seen as a strong value play, the opportunity for a true investment wager in Soto has come and gone.

Betts, Acuna Fading

So why have odds for the Dodgers’ new addition and the Braves’ young stud fallen since the end of February?

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First of all, let’s be clear: the change in odds is very slight. Betts went from +425 to +448 and is still the favorite, while Acuna went from +513 to +600. Maybe oddsmakers think the pressure on Betts to perform at a high-level in new surroundings will weigh him down enough to not meet expectations. After all, it’s very possible the former AL MVP never plays in a Dodger uniform after the much-ballyhooed mega deal that brought the free agent-to-be from Boston to Tinseltown.

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As for Acuna, oddsmakers seem to favor teammate Freeman as a possible sleeper. Meanwhile, the 22-year-old Venezuelan – who was just three stolen bases shy of joining Jose Canseco, Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Alfonso Soriano in the 40-40 Club last year – has stayed relatively healthy in his career.

However, with a player who plays as all-out as Acuna does, injuries will always be a back-of-the-mind concern.

L.A. Lefties, Too

If not for a broken kneecap suffered in the September stretch run, Christian Yelich may very well have won a second straight MVP Award.

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Entering the 2020 campaign, the Brewers star went from +700 to +719 in two months. Do sharps think having three straight MVP-worthy seasons is too much? I say balderdash. Mike Trout has done it eight years in a row and counting. Of course, Trout is a generational talent. But don’t bet against Yelich.

Yelich’s injury allowed another player with Southland ties to win the 2019 MVP. Dodgers young star Cody Bellinger has seen his odds go from +875 to +963. Bellinger’s 2019  second half wasn’t great, hitting .263, but was still getting on base frequently via the walk and posted an OPS over .900. However, it is that second-half drop off that has some fans and oddsmakers fading Bellinger.

When it comes to the top-five contenders, I love them all. But I think Acuna, more so than Soto, is primed for the best season.

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