2023 MLB MVP odds, sleeper, long-shot bets, expert picks

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By Edward Egros
FOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst

Even with a 162-game schedule, baseball never ceases to amaze, especially when it comes to the MVP award.

In 2018, virtually no one expected Christian Yelich to burst onto the scene with 25 home runs in the second half of the season en route to National League MVP honors.

Or that 33-year-old first baseman Jose Abreu could go on a 22-game hitting streak and capture the 2020 AL MVP honor.

As volatile as baseball is, we still have the task of figuring out who the best players could be this upcoming MLB season, especially for betting purposes.

We’ve already looked at MVP favorites in this space, but are there players with longer odds who could be worth a few bucks? Let’s break it down, with odds courtesy of FOX Bet.

Here are the odds for the top players to win NL MVP and my best bets:

Juan Soto, parents: +550 (bet $10 to win $65 total)
Mookie Betts, Dodgers: +900 (bet $10 to win $100 total)
Fernando Tatis Jr., Parents: +1000 (bet $10 to win $110 total)
Ronald Acuna Jr., Bras: +1000 (bet $10 to win $110 total)
Trea Turner, Phillies: +1100 (bet $10 to win $120 total)
Nolan Arenado, cardinals: +1200 (bet $10 to win $130 total)
Manny MachadoParents: +1200 (bet $10 to win $130 total)
Freddie FreemanDodgers: +1500 (bet $10 to win $160 in total)
Paul GoldschmidtCardinals: +1500 (bet $10 to win $160 in total)
Austin Rileybrave: +1600 (bet $10 to win $170 total)
Pete Alonso, Foods: +1600 (bet $10 to win $170 total)

Ronald Acuna Jr., Atlanta Braves: +1000 (bet $10 to win $110 total)

Some may have forgotten that Acuña started the season late recovering from a torn ACL. Not being fully healthy may explain why, for example, his sprint speed went from 29.4 ft/sec in 2021 (a top 25 speed) to 28.5 ft/sec last season.

Acuña was also unlucky, hitting just 15 home runs, though his average exit velocity of 91.2 mph ranked in the 86th percentile among MLB hitters.

We know Acuña is now in a good place health-wise. After all, he competed for Venezuela in the World Baseball Classic, finishing the tournament with a .286 on-base percentage and three stolen bases. Combine that with having arguably the best arm on the field to pick off base runners, and Acuña now has the best chance of his career to win MVP honors.

Pete AlonsoNew York Mets: +1600 (bet $10 to win $170)

The first baseman is coming off his prime season — age 28, coming off his best offensive season in terms of weighted on-base average compared to the rest of MLB (.366, or 92nd percentile) — and if you believe that stuff , is one of the Mets’ few elite hitters without a huge contract. He may still have something to prove during his one-year deal that avoided arbitration.

Alonso will have as much power as any slugger this season. Isolated power is like slugging percentage, but only takes extra-base hits into account. Expected Isolated Power (xISO) looks at exit velocity and throw angle to summarize the odds that contact made is for an extra-base hit. In 2022, Alonso ranked fifth in the NL in xISO (.227). He’ll be in the MVP conversation come season’s end if that power turns into consistent home runs.

Here are the top players to win American League MVP and my best bets:

Shohei Ohtani, angels: +220 (bet $10 to win $32 total)
Aaron Judge, Yankees: +700 (bet $10 to win $80 total)
Mike TroutAngels: +800 (bet $10 to win $90 total)
Juli Rodríguez, sailors: +900 (bet $10 to win $100 total)
Yordan Alvarez, Astros: +1200 (bet $10 to win $130 total)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Blue Jays: +1300 (bet $10 to win $130 total)
Jose Ramirez, guardians: +1500 (bet $10 to win $160 in total)
Kyle TuckerAstros: +2500 (bet $10 to win $260 total)
Rafael Devers, Red Sox: +3000 (bet $10 to win $310 total)
Adley Rutschman, Orioles: +3500 (bet $10 to win $360 total)
Strike Franco, rays: +4000 (bet $10 to win $410 total)
Byron Buxton, Twins: +4000 (bet $10 to win $410 total)

Jose Ramirez, Guardians of Cleveland: +1500 (bet $10 to win $160 in total)

First, here’s a rundown on the new rules in baseball this season. Aside from the field clock, the bases are larger (from 15 square inches to 18 square inches) and defensive turnovers have been prohibited (two infielders must be on each side of second base).

These changes should benefit two types of players: left-handed hitters and speedsters. Because defenses move more often against lefties, there will be more space in the infield. Also, with larger bases, speedy baserunners are more likely to reach first base after a ground ball and successfully steal a hit aboard.

Ramírez meets both criteria. The Guardians third baseman drew 175 turnovers last season (second most in MLB). Some of those pulled balls should turn into base hits. Also, among third basemen, Ramirez ranked sixth in velocity (28.5 ft/sec). Expect an already capable hitter to make big strides this season.

Jose Abreu, Houston Astros: +6000 (bet $10 to win $610 total)

And now we have come full circle. The former MVP has some of the longest odds on the board, but now he’s in a new spot in Houston, where hitters always seem to find their swing.

Aside from the narrative that a slightly older player is returning to form, the Astros’ new first baseman still has plenty of power. One thing to keep in mind when looking at futures betting is to find hitters who have had bad luck the previous season, believing that luck will turn the other way next season.

In terms of projected weighted average, Abreu ranked in the top 70 in terms of negative difference (-0.012) in 2022. In other words, physical factors like his exit velocity and launch angle suggested that he would have a .373. xwOBA, but his actual wOBA was .361. This imbalance often swings the other way the following season. If he does for Abreu, he could end up as one of the best hitters and capture another MVP honor.

It’s worth noting that I think Shohei Ohtani will win this year’s AL MVP (+220 at FOX Bet, bet $10 to win $32 total). However, just in case he doesn’t, Ramirez and Abreu are solid value plays in those numbers. I would bet more on Ohtani and less on Ramirez and Abreu so that any result is a net gain.

As for the NL, there may be other dark horses that aren’t on the board yet, but Acuña and Alonso are good places to start.

Edward Egros is a sports analytics broadcaster/writer, sports betting analyst, data scientist, and assistant professor of statistics at Pepperdine University. These passions have led him to become an aficionado of cold beer. Edward previously worked in local television, most notably at the Fox affiliate in Dallas, covering the Rangers, Cowboys and high school football. follow him Ttweet @EdWith Sports.

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