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Braves All-Star Ronald Acuna Jr. Goes from 25-1 to 18-1 in NL MVP Odds

Braves rookie Ronald Acuna, Jr. circles the bases after hitting a go-ahead home run.
Braves rookie Ronald Acuna, Jr. circles the bases after hitting a go-ahead home run. (Photo by Rich von Biberstein/Icon Sportswire)
  • BetOnline has Cody Belinger as  NL MVP favorite with Christian Yelich a close second
  • Ronald Acuna Jr. has jumped from +2500 to +1800
  • Is it a two-horse race? Does Acuna offer value?

With the second half of the MLB season set to start, it’s time to turn our attention to awards. Namely NL MVP.

Despite a breakout performance from Josh Bell, Cody Belinger and Christian Yelich have dominated the odds.

But even though there’s a huge drop off to the rest of the field, could a dark horse steal the honor?

Odds to Win 2019 National League MVP

Player Team 2019 NL MVP Odds at BetOnline
Cody Bellinger LA Dodgers -125
Christian Yelich Milwaukee Brewers +150
Josh Bell Pittsburgh Pirates +1200
Freddie Freeman Atlanta Braves +1400
Nolan Arenado Colorado Rockies +1800
Ronald Acuna Jr. Atlanta Braves +1800

*Odds taken 07/09/19

As you can see from looking at the latest NL MVP odds, things are shaping up for the Bellinger/Yelich showdown. It’s basically been this way since the games started to matter. Nolan Arenado opened as the favorite on March 4th, but has plummeted (relatively speaking) since June.

Meanwhile, the Braves have two NL MVP candidates in Ronald Acuna Jr. and Freddie Freeman. Acuna was as high as +900 to start May, and now is rebounding after a big dip.

Statistical Comparison of NL MVP Candidates

Player AVG HR RBI OBP SLG% WAR
Cody Bellinger .336 30 71 .432 .692 6.6
Christian Yelich .329 31 67 .433 .707 4.9
Josh Bell .302 27 84 .376 .648 3.0
Freddie Freeman .309 23 68 .394 .584 2.9
Nolan Arenado .312 20 67 .377 .562 3.2
Ronald Acuna Jr .292 21 53 .377 .506 3.1

When looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see why Bellinger and Yelich are top of this year’s clash. Among the top six NL MVP candidates, they are top-two in everything except RBI.

The interesting thing about this field, however, is the consistency behind them. If either slows down, a standard second half from Arenado should garner some buzz. And Freeman will surpass his average statistical floors according to Baseball Reference.

The name on this list we know the least about? Acuna.

Acuna Lurking in NL MVP Race

Going back to our NL MVP odds tracker, it becomes pretty simple to break down Acuna’s season. He launched himself into contention at the beginning of May, fell off in early June and July, and he’s in the picture once again.

So let’s explore those phases.

Acuna 2019 Statistical Breakdown

Month AVG HR RBI OBP SLG% NL MVP Odds
Mar 28 – May 2 .273 6 20 .385 .482 +900
May 3 – June 3 .281 5 14 .333 .439 +2000
June 4 – July 2 .322 9 18 .403 .602 +2500
July 3 – Present .278 1 1 .409 .444 +1800

The one thing we notice right away, is that Acuna’s odds got worse during his two best periods of the season.

While that doesn’t make sense at first, then you mix in Bellinger and Yelich.

On May 2nd, they sat at +250 and +300 respectively. Since then, both of their odds have improved. Which means it isn’t what Acuna is or isn’t doing that’s affecting his chances, it’s the other two.

2018 Second Half Stats for Top NL MVP Candidates

Player AVG HR RBI OBP SLG% SB
Cody Bellinger .285 8 32 .369 .453 9
Christian Yelich .367 25 67 .449 .770 10
Ronald Acuna Jr. .322 19 45 .403 .625 14
Nolan Arenado .275 15 42 .343 .526 0

All of these numbers are from the second half of 2018, which is Acuna’s rookie season and Bellinger’s second.

Despite an injury, Arenado posted strong numbers. Bellinger, meanwhile, fell off from his first half. The two hottest hitters are Yelich and and Acuna, and it isn’t particularly close.

Yelich’s second half was historic. It won him the MVP. But Acuna overcame a first half where he hit .249 with seven home runs. It won him the 2018 NL Rookie of the Year. And if he repeats it? It could win him the 2019 NL MVP.

Is Ronald Acuna Jr Worth it in NL MVP Race?

At +1800? Hedging with him isn’t a bad idea. Not to take anything away from Bellinger, but this second half will be defining. He’s fallen off post All-Star break in his two seasons, and even though it’s a small sample size, Acuna turned it on in a big way.

If you’re not in for a deep dive? Buying now on Yelich may be wise. While we can’t expect another historic August, he’s been better in the second half the last two seasons.

If either Yelich or Acuna enjoy a second half surge? This may be the best value you get them at for a while.

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