MLB Picks and Predictions: Who is in contention for the 2022 MVP race?

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at Kansas City Royals Vladimir Guerrero Jr

© Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

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John Lepore

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John is a respected MLB analyst, author and handicapper who has over 10 years' experience of betting big on baseball.

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A favorite, a contender, and a longshot for the 2022 American League MVP winner

PlayerOdds
Shohei Ohtani+380
Mike Trout+400
Vladimir Guerrero Jr+450
Aaron Judge+1600
Wander Franco+1700

(*Odds courtesy of Draftkings)

There are three favorites to win the American League MVP award who are well ahead of the chasing pack and the MLB MVP odds reflect that.

That is why you should not only look at the big favorites but also a few contenders and possibly a longshot.

It’s always a good idea when betting futures to diversify your portfolio, so to speak, so here are some players to have on your radar when throwing down your cash on the MLB MVP race ahead the season.

The Favorites

Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani is doing something that we haven’t seen in our lifetime - © Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani: Los Angeles Angels

AL MVP Odds: +380

Last year’s winner leads the pack at +350 so no wonder he makes the MVP favorites this season. He pitches and hits so that gives him a distinct advantage as he accumulates WAR (wins above replacement) more easily.

More and more voters use WAR as a barometer of how good a player is overall while the simple fact that Ohtani is doing something that we haven’t seen in our lifetime doesn’t hurt his chances of topping the MVP rankings either.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr: Toronto Blue Jays

AL MVP Odds: +400

The runner-up to Ohtani last season sits at +400 and may well be the best hitter in the AL, but what is truly scary is that he is only 23 years old and may get even better.

Defensively, he gets hurt by playing first base, although he is a good fielder logging two DRS (Defensive Runs Saved) in 2021.

Mike Trout : Los Angeles Angels

AL MVP Odds: +400

The Angels’ slugger rounds out the top three and is tied with Guerrero Jr. at +400 despite the three-time MVP winner having had his share of injuries the past couple of seasons and maybe not quite being the defensive centerfielder he once was.

However, Trout has the ability to put up ridiculous offensive numbers and could also help his WAR by playing at least an average centerfield as it is a premium position – so a healthy Trout has as good a chance in the MVP race as anyone.

The Contenders

Bo Bichette

Vladdy hit 29 home runs and stole 25 bases in 2021 while still batting .298. - © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Bo Bichette: Toronto Blue Jays

AL MVP Odds: +2000

Guerrero Jr.’s teammate broke out as well last season and Bichette is only a year older than his first baseman while also playing a premium position. The shortstop is also well-rounded as he hit 29 home runs and stole 25 bases in 2021 while still batting .298.

He finished just 0.9 behind Guerrero Jr. in WAR (6.8-5.9) with the payout being five times better for Bichette, and if he can continue to improve on both sides of the ball, his WAR could jump ahead of everyone else in the AL.

Luis Robert: Chicago White Sox

AL MVP Odds: +2800

The Chicago White Sox centerfielder is another young star in the making. Still only 24, Robert is poised to have a breakout season having won the Gold Glove in 2020 and finished second in Rookie of the Year voting behind Kyle Lewis.

Last year Robert was injured in early May and did not return until August 9, but from that point on, in the 43 games played, he slashed .350/.389/.622 with 12 home runs and 35 runs batted in. Like Bichette, Robert plays a premium position well, and judging by his 5.4 WAR in just 124 career games, a full season could have the White Sox centerfielder at or near the top of the MVP race.

The Longshot

Matt Chapman Totonto Blue Jays

A change of scenery could do Matt Chapman wonders - © Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Matt Chapman: Toronto Blue Jays

AL MVP Odds: +9000

Here is another Toronto Blue Jay on this list, albeit a new one. Chapman was traded from the Oakland A’s this offseason and will go from being a primary run producer in a pitcher’s park to having a potent lineup around him in a hitter’s park. While his new teammates may take some votes away from him, the odds are great here as a bounce-back season is possible for Chapman.

He had a 7.6 WAR in 2018 and 7.7 in 2019 while winning Gold Gloves each season. He took home his third last year and defense is his specialty. A resurgence in his hitting is a distinct possibility as Chapman had an unusually low EV (exit velocity) last year. The change of scenery could do him wonders and the return on your money is too good to pass up here.

A favorite, a contender, and a longshot for the 2022 National League MVP winner

PlayerOdds
Juan Soto+280
Ronald Acuna Jr.+700
Bryce Harper+900
Mookie Betts+900
Freddie Freeman+1200

(*Odds courtesy of Draftkings)

While the American League has three top dogs as far as MVP odds go, the NL side has one, but the main difference here is, well, the difference in odds.

Though the margin is big between the AL’s top three and the rest of the league’s contenders, Juan Soto is at +280 and doesn’t have as much separation from second favorite Ronald Acuna Jr. at +700.

There are some solid wagers here though and again, not putting all your eggs in one basket is a smart way to attack futures.

The Favorites

Juan Soto Washington Nationals

Juan Soto was the runner-up last season - © Albert Cesare / USA TODAY NETWORK

Juan Soto: Washington Nationals

NL MVP Odds: +280

Soto is the NL version of Guerrero but may be better so it’s no great surprise to see him head the National League MVP favorites list.

Washington’s right fielder was the runner-up last season despite having the highest WAR (7.1) of any position player in the NL.

He has an elite eye at the plate leading the league in walks (145) and OBP (.465) in 2021.

Ronald Acuna Jr: Atlanta Braves

NL MVP Odds: +700

Acuna Jr. was off to a great start last season until he tore his ACL on July 10. It was his 82nd game, and he already had 24 homers, 17 stolen bases, and a 3.6 WAR. Word out of Braves spring training is that Acuna Jr. will be brought along slowly and will probably miss the first three weeks of the regular season.

When he does come back, he will be the team’s designated hitter every few games until his strength is ramped up. Though that isn’t great news for his MVP odds, if Acuna Jr. can return to his pre-injury form, 130-140 games may be enough for the 24-year-old to take the award.

The Contenders

Francisco Lindor New York Mets MLB

Lindor is still an excellent defensive shortstop and is only 28 years old - © Jessica Alcheh-USA TODAY Sports

Francisco Lindor: New York Mets

NL MVP Odds: +2800

Much like Chapman in the AL, Lindor is looking to bounce back this season. Injuries and poor play while adjusting to hitting in the NL East hurt the Mets’ shortstop last year. Now that he has some help in the lineup and has acclimated himself to playing in the Big Apple, Lindor is primed to get back to the level he was at in 2018.

That year he had a 7.2 WAR and set career-highs with 38 homers and 25 steals. He is still an excellent defensive shortstop and is only 28 years old. At these odds, where $40 nets you over $1,000, Lindor is a solid play as a mid-range bet.

Ozzie Albies: Atlanta Braves

NL MVP Odds: +2800

The Braves second baseman set career-highs in home runs (30) and stolen bases (20) last season. He was also the only NL player to have 100+ RBIs and 100+ runs scored. Heading into this year, the Braves will be without Freddie Freeman and will also be missing Acuna Jr. for a few weeks too.

Therefore, Albies has a golden opportunity to be the main man in the lineup for the defending champs and has already proven he can put up great numbers. At only 25, Albies is just getting better and could become a truly elite player this season.

The Longshot

Bryan Reynolds Pittsburgh Pirates

In 2021 Reynolds blasted 24 homers and chipped in 90 RBIs and 93 runs while batting over .300 - © Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bryan Reynolds: Pittsburgh Pirates

NL MVP Odds: +8000

The Pittsburgh Pirates do not have much talent, but Reynolds is the exception. The centerfielder put up 6.0 WAR last year and that was despite being below average in the field and, offensively, the 27-year-old is just hitting his prime.

In 2021 he blasted 24 homers and chipped in 90 RBIs and 93 runs while batting over .300 and of all the players at +7500 or more, Reynolds is the best bet and could have a 7.0+ WAR season if he continues to improve especially on the defensive side.

MLB standings

AL
NL
  • Division
  • American League Central
  • American League East
  • American League West
  • All Divisions
American League Central W L Pct GB Home Away Conf Div NL Money OU
1 Chi. White Sox Chi. White Sox 0 0 .000 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0-0-0
2 Cleveland Cleveland 0 0 .000 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0-0-0
3 Detroit Detroit 0 0 .000 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0-0-0
4 Kansas City Kansas City 0 0 .000 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0-0-0
5 Minnesota Minnesota 0 0 .000 0.0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0-0-0

Last updated: Feb 8, 6:21 AM UTC

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Odds updated: Feb 8, 6:50 AM UTC