National League (NL) MVP Award 2021: Predictions and Betting Odds
It’s truly a welcomed sight. It’s one of the first sure-fire ways to know baseball season is almost here — when the MVP odds come out.
The MVP can be hard to predict, particularly in the National League when there hasn’t been a Mike Trout-level player who has dominated the scene for the better part of a decade. Every MVP in the National League has been a first-timer since Albert Pujols won this second straight, and third total in 2009.
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National League (NL) MVP Award 2021 Odds
Odds taken from BetMGM, updated on April 12, 2021.
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||+1400|
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Favorites to Win the 2021 NL MVP Award
Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
The favorite in the National League to open the season is Mookie Betts, which shouldn’t be that much of a surprise — he’s the best player on the best team. Betts won the AL MVP as a member of the Boston Red Sox in 2018 when he set a number of career-high marks including home runs (32), batting average (.346), OBP (.438), and OPS (1.078).
Betts didn’t quite reach expectations in his first season in Los Angeles last season, but last year was anything but normal. In each season from 2017-19, Betts had 10 more strikeouts than walks (or fewer) in each season. Last year, he struck out 14 more times than he walked, in just 55 games.
But last year doesn’t matter, other than the fact Betts got to win another World Series. Betts, a 28-year-old who is hands down one of the top three two-way players in the game is absolutely a good bet, even if he has the shortest odds. The Dodgers will win more than 105 games this year and Betts will be a big reason why.
Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals
The co-favorite to win the National League MVP is one of the bright young stars in this game, Juan Soto. Soto, who is just 22-years-old yet has finished in the top 10 in MVP voting twice, is poised for another huge season. It’s too bad it was a shortened season last year because the way Soto was playing was special — batting .351, with an otherworldly .490 OBP and 1.185 OPS. He had 54 hits in just 47 games and walked 41 times!
Soto has the best plate discipline of any player in the major leagues and he’s still learning how to play at this level — a truly scary thought. He’s a five-tool player, just like Betts, too. He can throw, catch and run with the best of them. The only trepidation I have on backing Soto is more often than not, MVP’s come from teams that make the postseason. I don’t see the Nationals making it to October, so while he’s a special talent, it might not be worth it since he is the betting favorite.
Cody Bellinger, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Next in the list of MVP candidates, we find the 2019 NL MVP winner — the last time the MLB had a full season — Dodgers outfielder Cody Bellinger. Once again, there’s a reason he is so highly regarded. Bellinger has played four years in the MLB and already won a Rookie of the Year, an MVP, and made two of three All-Star games.
He struggled last year with just a .333 OBP last year, but once again, I’m chalking up last year to weird Covid times — nothing more. If there’s anything playing against Bellinger’s chances, it’s that he not only shares a team, but he shares an outfield, with Betts.
The other main question mark is that he’s coming off of an injury — he got arthroscopic labrum surgery on his right shoulder in the offseason. That may slow him down early on, but he’s expected to be healthy for Opening Day. Again, Bellinger is a wonderful player, but I like both of the first two options more than Bellinger — especially since the odds are almost equivalent.
Fernando Tatis. Jr., SS, San Diego Padres
He’s young. He’s energetic. He has one of the biggest contracts in the sport. And, he is the new face of baseball. There’s nothing Fernando Tatis. Jr doesn’t do and he will without a doubt be one of the trendiest MVP picks of the year.
He’s played just 143 games in his career — less than a full season’s worth — and these are his career numbers that far.
The 22-year-old is batting .301, with a .374 OBP and .956 OPS. He’s belted 39 home runs, driven in 98 runs, and has scored 111 runs. Those would be insane numbers for any season and that’s what he’s done in less than a season to begin his career.
Unless for some reason you’re counting on a slump in what will be his first full season in the majors, he might be the best bet of the bunch. Tatis Jr. is going to be finishing top five in MVP’s for the next decade.
Francisco Lindor, SS, New York Mets
Francisco Lindor is tied with Nolan Arenado and Christian Yelich for fifth shortest MVP odds but Lindor is the one we like best. He finished top 10 in MVP voting in three of the last four years as a member of the Cleveland Indians and something about this situation just feels like he’s going to be even better in the bright lights of New York.
Lindor had a rough 2020 by his standards, but once again, it’s hard to hold anybody truly accountable for what happened last season. Lindor has the bright lights of New York going for him and with everybody calling Tatis. Jr the best shortstop in the game already, I expect Lindor to come out with a vengeance this season.
Longshot: Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets
While his teammate might take away some of the attention, don’t forget the last time we finished a full season Pete Alonso won the home run crown, was named Rookie of the Year and finished top 10 in MVP voting.
Alonso is one of the three best power hitters in the game and this year says he wants to prove he’s one of the best hitters in the game. But anyone who can hit 50+ home runs in a season can garner some attention — and that’s a good start toward an MVP run.
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What Is the NL MVP Award?
Awarded to the best player in each of baseball’s two leagues, the American and National, the Most Valuable Player Award is the biggest award that any player can receive in their career in Major League Baseball.
The award is special because it is a symbol of excellence that holds significance when a player’s career is gauged by Hall of Fame voters after the player retires from baseball.
How Is the National League MVP Award Decided?
The NL MVP Award is given by a group of baseball writers. Each baseball team in the National League is represented by two writers that follow the team they are voting on behalf of for the award.
These voters use their ballots to assign a place for the players they believe are praiseworthy of the award.
Once their ballot is filled out, voters will have selected a first through tenth place player for the award in whichever league they are voting within, whether it be the American or National League.
The votes are then counted by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, who utilizes a weighted formula to tally the final totals and name an eventual winner of the accolade.
Who Has Won the Most MVP Awards?
Barry Bonds leads the National League and all of baseball with seven MVP trophies. Bonds won three MVP awards in four years in the early 1990s, then won four straight NL MVP crowns from 2001-2004 with San Francisco.
Next to Bonds, the St. Louis Cardinals slugger Albert Pujols won three NL MVP trophies in five years with his first coming in 2005 and his last in 2009.
Other National League superstars to win three MVP trophies include Philadelphia third baseman Mike Schmidt and Cardinals first baseman Stan Musial.
Catcher Roy Campanella also won three NL MVP Awards with the Brooklyn Dodgers.
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Tony writes about baseball for WSN.com after recently graduating with his Masters from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University. Prior to that, Tony was a local sports reporter for MLive Media Group, based out of Jackson, Michigan where he covered everything from high school to professional sports. He graduated from Michigan State in 2015 with a degree in journalism. During his time there he covered the Michigan State football and men’s basketball teams from 2013-15 and hosted a sports radio show on WDBM 89FM.