The 2020 Major League Baseball season is set to get underway in just a couple of weeks. That’s assuming the proliferation of the coronavirus doesn’t force the league to push the start of the season back, of course. We have already seen pro leagues in Japan and South Korea postpone the starts of their domestic seasons, so time will tell if MLB will eventually be forced to follow suit.
Here’s hoping things will be able to go ahead as scheduled with Opening Day on March 26. All 30 teams are scheduled to be in action on what should, frankly, be a national holiday. As of now, baseball betting sites are acting as though the season will go forward without interruption. A slew of prop bets have already been posted in anticipation of the upcoming campaign at BetOnline.
Oddsmakers have handicapped the field when it comes to who will win the MVP awards in the American and National Leagues. As you may expect, Los Angeles Angels superstar Mike Trout headlines the field on the AL side. The 3-time AL MVP is a prohibitive +120 favorite to win the award for the fourth time in 2020. On the NL side, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Mookie Betts and Atlanta Braves phenom Ronald Acuna Jr. are tied for the lead at +550 apiece.
Obviously, all 3 players make for solid betting options. You don’t need me to tell you that, of course. Baseball season is a long one, which makes it generally unpredictable. Injuries pop up all the time. While Trout should be the best bet to win AL MVP, a lot can happen over the course of the season to affect the MVP race.
The following are 5 sleeper candidates to consider if you want to bet on AL and NL MVP in 2020.
The White Sox are expected to be one of the most-improved teams in baseball in 2020. BetOnline has the ChiSox with an over/under of 84.5 wins, which would be quite an improvement on the 72 games they won a season ago. This season’s roster features a number of new faces, including Yasmani Grandal, Dallas Keuchel, and Edwin Encarnacion. The team is also expected to get contributions from top prospects like Nick Madrigal, Luis Robert and Michael Kopech.
Yoan Moncada was baseball’s No. 1 prospect when the White Sox acquired him from the Red Sox in the Chris Sale trade a few years back. He hasn’t always looked great, but the 24-year-old took major steps in 2019. Last year, Moncada slashed .315/.367/.548 with 25 homers, 79 runs batted in and 10 stolen bases.
Moncada improving his batting average by 80 percentage points was no small development. Assuming he’s able to stay healthy, there’s no real reason to believe he won’t keep improving moving forward. Moncada should fit in nicely near the top of a lineup that is suddenly looking like one of baseball’s most potent, on paper.
If the White Sox take a step forward this season, Moncada will likely be a big reason why. The +1800 odds on the Cuban to win AL MVP are very attackable, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see the number shrink as the season progresses.
Yoan Moncada+1800 to Win AL MVP
Javier Baez didn’t finish in the top-22 of NL MVP voting last season, but he did finish second back in 2018. Baez dealt with some injuries last season, but he still wound up hitting .281/.316/.531 with 29 homers and 85 runs batted in. He played in 138 games after being present for 160 two years ago. That year, the Cubs’ star shortstop slashed .290/.326/.55 with career-highs in homers (34) and runs batted in (111). He also stole 21 bases that year, for good measure.
Assuming Baez can inch closer back to playing a full season in 2020, he seems like a good bet to enjoy a bounce-back season. He’s still only 27, and he should be able to continue to make strides in the batter’s box. It wasn’t that long ago that Baez was a well below-average hitter, but his work with the bat has seemingly finally caught up to the excellent work he does defensively.
Baez’ MVP candidacy may hinge on whether the Cubs are able to make noise in the NL Central. Things haven’t gone according to plan for Chicago since the team won the World Series back in 2016. The Cubs had the makings of a potential dynasty back then, but they wound up missing the playoffs last year after finishing just 6 games over .500.
I’m skeptical of this team’s upside, but if the Cubs are able to turn themselves back into World Series contenders, Baez will surely attract plenty of the credit. You can definitely do worse than taking a stab at the All-Star shortstop to win MVP at the current +2000 odds.
Javier Baez+2000 to Win NL MVP
The A’s have been knocking on the door in the AL West for the past couple of years, but they haven’t been able to overcome the Astros. Oakland has still made the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, but they failed to get past the Wild Card Game in both instances. Regardless, the future still appears to be bright for what is still a very young team.
Matt Chapman is the cornerstone of that youth movement. Last year, Chapman finished 11th in the majors in WAR (6.1). Only Marcus Semien (7.6) was more prolific in that regard among Oakland’s crop of talent. Semien makes for an interesting MVP bet himself at +3000, but I think Chapman’s +2500 odds are more interesting.
Chapman is arguably the best defensive player in baseball, which should count for something. He’s not too shabby with the lumber, either. Despite playing his home games in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in the big leagues, Chapman hit .249/.342/.506 with 36 homers and 91 knocked in a season ago. Chapman hit .278 back in 2018, so I’m expecting him to improve upon the sluggish batting average he had last season.
If Oakland can make another push against Houston in the division, Chapman should get some serious MVP consideration. He finished sixth in the voting last season. The +2500 odds on Chapman to win AL MVP make him a very strong betting option to consider.
Matt Chapman+2500 to Win AL MVP
Pete Alonso is fresh off of one of the most prolific rookie seasons in baseball history. The slugger hit .260/.358/.583 with a whopping 53 homers and 120 runs batted in last season across 161 games for the Mets. It’ll be interesting to see if pitchers adjust their approach against Alonso as he enters his second big league campaign, but he certainly won’t be sneaking up on anybody.
Like the White Sox, the Mets have been a fairly popular sleeper pick ahead of the upcoming season. New York has a very talented pitching staff, and there are enough promising young hitters in the lineup to where the Mets look like a solid team on paper.
The NL East is a stacked division, but if the Mets are able to make a playoff push then Alonso will likely have a viable MVP case. It also doesn’t hurt that he plays in New York, the nation’s No. 1 media market. The press is always happy to make stars out of players that play in New York, and they’re the ones that vote on these awards.
Suggesting that Alonso will hit 50-plus homers again is a bit of a reach, but he did finish a respectable seventh in MVP voting last season despite the fact that the Mets fell short of a playoff berth. At the very least, the young first baseman is worth a look entering the new season with his MVP odds down at +2500.
Pete Alonso+2500 to Win NL MVP
Look, I know what you’re thinking. The Astros are public enemy No. 1 right now, and there’s reason to believe voters are going to be reluctant to give these guys any awards any time soon. Altuve won the AL MVP in 2017, which was obviously when the team was caught cheating. Some have said that Altuve “stole” the MVP award from Aaron Judge that year.
In a vacuum, though, getting Altuve at +4000 to win the award next season is fantastic value. He has been one of the best hitters in baseball for the last half-decade, and he hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down. He hit over .300 in every season from 2014 until 2018, and he finished at .298 in 2019.
Everyone hates the Astros these days, but Houston is still a heavy favorite to win the AL West yet again. Regardless of what you think of the players, there’s reason to believe these guys are capable of putting up numbers even without the trashcans. The betting public has been bearish on the Astros in general, which explains how Altuve’s MVP odds have dipped all the way to where they are.
Do I think this is a likely bet to cash? No, but value is value. If Altuve does something crazy like hit .380 for one of the best teams in baseball, voters are going to have a very hard time ignoring him once awards season rolls around.
Jose Altuve+4000 to Win AL MVP
Taylor Smith has been a staff writer with GamblingSites.org since early 2017. Taylor is primarily a sports writer, though he will occasionally dabble in other things like politics and entertainment betting. His primary specialties are writing about the NBA, Major League Baseball, NFL and domestic and international soccer. Fringe sports like golf and horse racing aren’t exactly his cup of tea, bu ...
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