NL MVP and Cy Young Odds (03/24/17)
Let's break down the 2017 MVP and Cy Young races for the National League. Odds are courtesy of Bovada.lv.
It is quite strange to see the reigning MVP, Kris Bryant, and Bryce Harper tied for the top odds for NL MVP. Harper has really had one huge season while the others were riddled with some injury issues and longer slumps. Don't get me wrong, he's a great player and projection systems absolutely love him, but the results haven't been very consistent.
Bryant is the clear favorite after winning last year with a 149 wRC+ (49% more runs created than average) and playing outstanding defense.
Nolan Arenado is interesting at third place. He plays in an extremely hitter-friendly park where he gets a large boost in raw statistics. However, voters are becoming more knowledgable and punishing Arenado appropriately. Nonetheless, he's played outstanding defense and has insane raw numbers. The biggest downside to his success in MVP voting is the Rockies are and have been a bad team, although their pitching is very underrated this season and they could surprise some people.
Anthony Rizzo and Corey Seager make up the back half of the favorites. Rizzo has been the model of consistency. He's acquired 5+ WAR for three straight seasons with 32, 31, and 32 home runs. We know exactly what we're getting with Rizzo. If he takes the next step and gets to 40 home runs, he should have great odds to win an MVP for Chicago.
Seager is the lightning bolt for the Dodgers. He played in 157 games, hit 26 home runs from the shortstop position, and added some of the best defense in the majors. Seager reached 7.5 WAR (second only behind Bryant) in his first full season and showed the ability to at least hang with the difficult lefty-on-lefty match up at the plate. Seager has the most lucrative odds at +1200 as the voters become more in touch with advanced statistics.
There's no surprise who the favorite is in the Cy Young in the NL every year. Clayton Kershaw is putting together a five year stretch that challenges some of the best stretches in MLB history. Kershaw missed some time last year which paved the way for Max Scherzer to take home the Cy Young. Even with the missed time, Kershaw was still tied for the league lead in WAR. If Kershaw is healthy for the whole season, or even close to a whole season, the trophy is likely his.
Noah Syndergaard was the NL pitcher tied in WAR with Kershaw. As Syndergaard has gained large leaps in velocity, his upside has exploded. He was a bit unlucky in results last year, showing a 2.60 ERA compared to a 2.29 FIP. With the velocity jump, Syndergaard's groundball rate jumped to 51.2%. His .334 BABIP against is not likely sustainable. His odds seem to be the most lucrative of the group, especially since the Mets figure to challenge the Nats in the NL East (which is still valuable to some voters).
Madison Bumgarner is one of the more impressive talents in baseball. He's only 27 and has six full seasons in the MLB. Those six seasons have been at a highly regarded level. However, he does pitch in the largest park in the MLB and his regular season results haven't been as impressive as past winners. His ERA has sat between 2.74 and 3.37 over those seasons. He's a model of consistency and has had the best playoff runs out of any pitcher in a long time, but he lacks the low twos ERA that previous winners have had.
Jake Arrieta, Stephen Strasburg, Jon Lester, and Johnny Cueto clean up the back half of the top pitchers. Arrieta did struggle some down the stretch with giving up home runs, which has cooled his candidacy for Cy Young. Strasburg has had injury concerns for nearly his entire career. When he's on the field and healthy, he's clearly one of the best in baseball. However, it seems to be a large ask for a full season from Strasburg.