The National League MVP race has become a two-man show. Jacob deGrom recently moved into minus odds (-110) while Fernando Tatis, Jr. has seen his odds to with the NL MVP jump from +180 to +123 over the last couple of weeks. In this piece, I take a look at the frontrunners & if there are any worthy longshots to consider at this point in the season.
National League MVP favorite, Jacob deGrom
How it started – The National League MVP odds board opened with young Nationals slugger, Juan Soto at the top with the 2018 AL MVP, Mookie Betts at +750 odds. Fernando Tatis, Jr. opened as the third favorite to win the NL MVP, and his performance so far has been as expected. The current betting favorite, Jacob deGrom, opened at 50-1 to win the NL MVP, and while he’s been great for several years now, not many expected him to have the season he is having. deGrom’s long odds early on were deserved as pitchers rarely win the MVP. Clayton Kershaw won the award in 2014, but before that, you have to go back to Bob Gibson’s magical 1968 season when a pitcher won the NL’s Most Valuable Player award.
How it’s going – Much like the American League, the National League MVP race has turned into a two-man contest with Mets pitcher, Jacob deGrom (-110), and Padres star, Fernando Tatis, Jr (+123). both separating themselves from the pack. And with the third favorite, Braves outfielder and 2018 National League Rookie of the Year, Ronald Acuna, out for the rest of the year with a torn ACL, the gap between the top two and the rest of the field is only widening. On top of that, deGrom and Tatis, Jr. are the best players on two of the best teams in the National League. Historic seasons should be rewarded, however, and if deGrom continues his great play (see below), the MVP is his to lose.
Jacob deGrom – Pitching: 15 GS, 92.0 IP, 7-2 W/L, 1.08 ERA, 146 K, 0.55 WHIP | Batting: 12 hits, 6 RBI, .364 AVG, .394 SLG – deGrom’s season so far has been one for the ages. And I included his hitting stats here because, in regards to the National League MVP race, they are relevant. The six RBIs he has are more than half of the earned runs he’s given up this season (11). And as has been the unfortunate case with the Mets in recent years, deGrom’s run support in his two losses was ZERO. This while allowing one earned run in each of those games. He has gotten touched up a bit his last three starts, however, giving up seven earned runs during those starts. Proof of his greatness though is that during this “down” stretch, deGrom’s ERA has gone from 0.50 to 1.08. He plays in the #1 media market, his Mets are in 1st place in the National League East, and there have been only a couple sub-1.00 ERAs posted ever. I think the number everyone is looking at now is Bob Gibson’s 1.12 ERA during the 1968 season.
Fernando Tatis, Jr. – 74 runs, 29 HR, 66 RBI, 22 SB, .295 AVG, 1.029 OPS – The National League leader in home runs has cemented himself as the superstar he was tabbed as when he first suited up for the Padres three seasons ago. El Nino has already set career highs this year in HRs, RBIs, doubles (18), walks (40), and stolen bases. The San Diego shortstop has dealt with some shoulder issues and has missed some games, but in a normal year, when another guy isn’t having one of the greatest seasons ever, Tatis, Jr. would likely be the heavy favorite.
Ronald Acuna – 72 runs, 24 HR, 52 RBI, 17 SB, .283 AVG, .990 OPS (out for rest of season) – There is really no need to spend much time here as this will likely be Acuna’s last week as one of the betting favorites to win the NL MVP, but the star outfielder has been one of the betting favorites all season. Acuna is still third in the National League in HRs and second in runs scored. His injury (torn ACL) was a tough one to take for the Braves as they have championship aspirations. All is not lost yet for the Braves as they are only 4.5 games behind the Mets in the East as we head into the final week of July, but they had been a .500 ballclub with their best player in the line-up, and unless their pitching gets on track, it’s hard seeing Atlanta improving from their first half.
Any longshots? In short, not likely. A guy like Trea Turner (+3250) is having a career year, carrying a .320 BA into the second half with 18 round-trippers and 47 RBI. Duplicating those numbers for the playoff run would be a feat in itself, but it would require that, plus season-ending injuries or complete second-half meltdowns from both of the frontrunners for Trea’s MVP tickets to cash.
Be sure to check out my American League MVP betting analysis.
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