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Nelson Cruz Favored to Win AL MVP; Bieber, Abreu in the Mix

Nelson Cruz rounding the bases
Minnesota Twins designated hitter Nelson Cruz saw his AL MVP odds shorten from +825 to +125 in the span of six days. Photo by @MLBStats (Twitter).
  • Minnesota Twins DH Nelson Cruz is the new AL MVP favorite
  • Cruz saw his odds shorten from +825 on Sep. 9 to +125 by Sep. 15
  • Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber (+200) is the second betting choice

The oddsmakers have shifted the American League MVP race into Cruz control.

Nelson Cruz evidently moves pretty fast for a designated hitter. The Minnesota Twins slugger vaulted into the favorite’s role in the 2020 AL MVP odds.

Cruz had the fourth-best odds at +825 on Sep. 9. Six days later, he’s the +125 chalk.

2020 AL MVP Odds

Player (Team) Sep. 15 Odds Sep. 9 Odds
Nelson Cruz (Twins) +125 +825
Shane Bieber (Indians) +200 +400
Jose Abreu (White Sox) +550 +650
Mike Trout (Angels) +700 +550
Tim Anderson (White Sox) +900 +1650
Luke Voit (Yankees) +2000 +1250

Odds as of Sep. 15th.

Cleveland Indians pitcher Shane Bieber’s odds shortened to +200 from +400. Chicago White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu’s betting line improved from +650 to +550.

Launching Cruz Missiles

Cruz has crushed his way to the top of many of the AL’s key batting categories. He’s the league leader in slugging percentage (.652) and OPS (1.066). The Twins DH is also second in the AL in on-base percentage (.414).

Cruz’s 16 home runs give him a share of second in the league with Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels. Luke Voit of the New York Yankees leads with 17 homers.

However, Cruz’s 32 RBI leave him in a distant tie for eighth among the junior circuit leaders. That’s surprising, considering that he drove in 15 runs through his first 11 games of the season, and even more surprising when you consider that he’s batting .379 with runners in scoring position.

Is DH an MVP Deal Breaker?

Frank Thomas, the last White Sox player to win the MVP when he captured back-to-back awards in 1993-94, believes that the fact that Cruz is a DH will work against him in the MVP balloting.

Thomas won his two MVP awards while playing first base. He never received MVP recognition later in his career despite putting up impressive numbers as a DH.

The Big Hurt makes a valid point. No full-time DH has ever been named AL MVP. In 1979, Don Baylor of the Angels won the MVP while splitting time between left field and DH.

Baylor DHed for 65 games that season and played 97 games in the outfield. Cruz, 39,  has played DH in every game for the past two seasons. His last action in the field came in 2018 with the Seattle Mariners.

Abreu Also Impressive

Helping the White Sox challenge for their first AL Central title since 2007, ChiSox first baseman Abreu also has his name all over the AL batting leaderboard.

He entered play Tuesday leading AL position players in WAR (2.4), hits (62), total bases (120), RBI (48), and extra-base hits (28). Abreu’s 15 homers have him in a tie for fourth spot.

The ChiSox first sacker is one of three players in MLB history to launch his career with four-straight seasons hitting 25-plus home runs and 100-plus RBI. In Sunday’s 14-0 drubbing of the Detroit Tigers, Abreu went 4-for-4 with 7 RBI, five runs, and a pair of homers.

Bieber in Tough

Speaking of dominance, check the digits being posted by Cleveland right-hander Bieber. Among pitchers, he’s the current AL leader in WAR (2.9), ERA (1.53), wins (seven), winning percentage (.875), strikeouts (102), and strikeouts per nine innings (14.196).

He already has the AL Cy Young in the bag. However, he’s in tough to win MVP. Starting pitchers don’t get a lot of MVP love. Since 1987, Justin Verlander (Detroit, 2011) is the only starting pitcher to be named AL MVP.

Edge to Abreu

Playing  in the field every day gives Abreu a leg up on Cruz if their offensive numbers continue to be similar.

Cruz must keep slashing the baseball with his bat. It’s the only tool at his disposal.

Pick: Jose Abreu (+550)

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