National League (NL) MVP Award 2022: Predictions, Odds, Picks
- Injury not affecting one of the preseason front runners
- 8 of top 11 options come from three teams
- Longshot to watch
National League MVP Odds
Odds taken from Caesars Sportsbook
|Juan Soto, Washington Nationals||+280 |
|Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves||+700 |
|Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers||+900 |
|Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies||+900 |
|Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers||+1200 |
|Trea Turner, Los Angeles Dodgers||+1400 |
|Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres||+1800 |
|Matt Olson, Atlanta Braves||+2200 |
|Austin Riley, Atlanta Braves||+2500 |
|Tyler O’Neill, St. Louis Cardinals||+3000 |
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Best Bets and Long Shots to Watch
Prior to the 2021 season, guessing the NL MVP was essentially like predicting who would be the new breakout player. Last season, Bryce Harper won his second MVP award – this time on the Phillies, his first came on the Nationals – and became the first player in the NL to win multiple MVP awards since Albert Pujols won his third in 2009.
So, will we see a new face breakthrough for the first time, or will we have another repeat winner in the National League? If the top few options are any indication, Vegas seems to think we will have a new face hoisting the trophy.
Juan Soto, OF, Washington Nationals
There’s not a lot of value in betting Soto at this point; at +280, the odds don’t have much room to go down even if he gets off to a torrid start. Plus, the MVP usually (but not always) goes to a team that is winning at a high rate and it’s hard to see the Nationals pushing for the NL East crown this year.
Alright, that’s our argument against it. It’s a pretty weak one to be honest. If we could only place one bet in either league to win the MVP award, it would be Soto. The young man is an absolute menace on the field – he hit .313 last season with a league-leading .465 (!!!) OBP and .999 OPS. He belted 29 home runs and drove in 95 RBIs and his eye in the box might be his greatest asset – with a 3:2 walk to strikeout ratio. It’s hard to think that there’s much room to improve on the on-base percentage, but we feel comfortable saying his power numbers, which were already very good, will improve this year.
Ronald Acuna Jr., OF, Atlanta Braves
Apparently, Vegas, and the betting world in general, isn’t too worried about Acuna’s knee injury (he tore his ACL last season and didn’t return after the July 10th injury) that is expected to keep him out until sometime in May, because he’s still the second-favorite to win the award.
Now the season is long enough to make up for it – and recency bias and what players do down the stretch is weighted heavier than what happens in April – but should it be somewhat close in the eyes of the voters, it’s hard to imagine missing 30+ games won’t play a factor.
With that said, Acuna Jr. is a top 3 talent in the national league and is a 40- home run, 40-steal guy when fully healthy. Last year, in almost exactly half of a season (82 games) he slashed .283/.394/.596 with 24 home runs, 52 RBIs, 72 runs, 17 steals and 3.6 WAR.
These are numbers few are capable of putting up and he will likely belt 30 home runs this year and get on base around 40 percent of the time should he return as he’s tracking. If that’s the case, with the Braves expected to compete again, Acuna has every opportunity to take ths home.
Mookie Betts, OF, Los Angeles Dodgers
Well, the Dodgers might be the exception. Just look at the lineup from top to bottom (Betts, Freeman, and Turner are all top six in the preseason odds for the award) not to mention guys like former MVP Cody Bellinger, Max Muncy and Justin Turner. The team is so loaded, it may take away from Betts, who just a few years ago was seen as the No. 2 player in baseball w behind only Mike Trout when he won the AL MVP for the Red Sox in 2018.
Last year, Betts had a down year, hitting .264 with 23 home runs, 58 RBIs, and an .854 OPS. Even if he has a bounceback year, we just don’t see him standing out enough to take home this crown.
Bryce Harper, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
He’s the reigning MVP, he’s won two in the past five years and the only reason to think he won’t do it again is that nobody has repeated an award in the National League since Albert Pujols did so in 2008-09.
Last year, Harper hit .309 with 35 home runs 84 RBIs, and a league-leading 1.044 OPS.
He seems to be picking up where he left off – on Sunday he belted two home runs against the Blue Jays in spring training. Not to mention, he was vocal to Phillies brass about his desire to add another big bat to the lineup to get him some help (they did, in Nick Castellanos) further proving his desire to win. We aren’t going to bet this one, but it’s hard to count him out.
Long shot: Pete Alonso, 1B, New York Mets
The Mets are expected to compete in the NL East in large part because they have arguably the two best pitchers in baseball – Jacob DeGrom and Max Scherzer.
But somebody is going to have to hit and while the top half of the lineup is relatively potent, nobody has the pop or potential of Pete Alonso. He took the world by storm his rookie year belting 53 home runs – and last year he hit .262 with 37 home runs, 94 RBIs and an 863 OPS.
All of those numbers are equivalent or better than Betts and his payout is three times better. It’s certainly a long shot, but don’t sleep on Alonso to hit more than 40 home runs and if he’s the best hitter on an NL East championship Mets team, he will be in the race at the end of the year.
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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.