While the National League has some exciting rising stars, it has been a couple of veterans who have surged to the front in the latest National League Most Valuable Player odds established by the sportsbook.
Third basemen Manny Machado and Nolan Arenado of the San Diego Padres and St. Louis Cardinals, respectively, are among the top hitters in the NL and moved ahead of preseason favorite Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals.
Machado is currently listed at +325 followed by Arenado at +450 and Soto at +650.
Those who bet online need to remain diligent because the pecking order in the MVP race continues to change.
Machado Leading Way for Padres
Manny Machado has finished in the top 10 in MVP balloting four times, including a third-place finish in the COVID-shortened 2020 season. Is this the year when he finally breaks through?
With shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. yet to play a game for the Padres due to an injury suffered in the offseason, somebody was needed to shoulder the offensive burden.
Machado was happy to oblige.
Among National League players with a minimum of 100 at-bats, Machado has the best batting average among National League batters. He also ranks in the top five in runs scored, on-base percentage and OPS.
In the MLB dot com MVP poll, Manny Machado earned 45 1st place votes w/2nd place being Arenado with 8 votes. The gap is large and it should be.
Machado leads the MLB (not just NL) in:
total bases (75)
— Nick Lee (@NickLee51) May 12, 2022
Machado has posted a batting average over .300 just once in his first 10 seasons, but he is currently hitting .353 to move to the top of the list of NL MVP candidates according to the MLB picks. Tatis comes in at +4000 even though he is still waiting to make his 2022 debut.
Arenado at Home in St. Louis
Maybe Nolan Arenado’s success as a hitter wasn’t as a result of playing in the altitude while a member of the Colorado Rockies.
Arenado finished in the top 10 in the MVP voting in the National League for five straight seasons. He averaged 40 home runs, 82 extra-base hits and 124 RBIs during that five-year span. He also won a Gold Glove for the play at third base in each of those seasons.
His first season in St. Louis was nothing to be ashamed of. Arenado had 34 homers and 105 RBIs, but he batted just .255. This season, he is hitting .306, is second in the National League with 31 RBIs and tied for second with nine home runs.
Arenado’s numbers have dipped in the month of May after a tremendous first month of the season. Still, the MLB odds have him very much in contention for the MVP award.
Soto Still in Running
Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto was listed as the MVP favorite before the start of the season. His odds have dropped from +325 to +650, as the 23-year-old Soto is off to a solid if a somewhat unspectacular start.
Soto has eight home runs but only 11 RBIs which speaks volumes about the level of his team.
Soto won the batting title with a .351 average in 2020 and led the NL with 145 walks the following season. He has gone from ninth to fifth to second in the MVP voting. If he wants to take that next step and win the MVP, he is going to have to pick things up.
Other Preseason Favorites in the Mix
Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper, Atlanta’s Ronald Acuna Jr. and Mookie Betts of the Los Angeles Dodgers were all in the top five in the preseason National League MVP race.
Harper’s odds have remained at +900, Acuna’s (+1000) dropped some as he missed the early portion of the season and the odds for Betts have fallen a bit to +1800.
Harper is dealing with a shoulder issue that will keep him from playing in the field for the foreseeable future. That injury hasn’t slowed down his torrid hitting pace.
Harper is second in the National League with an OPS of .995. He already has 14 doubles, nine homers, 29 runs scored and 27 RBIs in 34 games.
Acuna missed 26 games. He is only hitting .261 with four extra-base hits in the 12 games that he has played, so he has some work to do. He does have six stolen bases in his first 12 games.
Betts has helped the Dodgers to the best record in the National League. He has seven doubles and a team-leading eight home runs. His average is right around last year’s mark, but it is well behind what he used to post during his time with the Boston Red Sox.
Freeman, Lindor Enjoying Bright Lights
Six of the top eight MVP candidates in the National League started their careers elsewhere.
Two of the players seemingly energized by the new surroundings are Los Angeles Dodgers first baseman Freddie Freeman (+1000) and New York Mets infielder Francisco Lindor (+1800).
Freeman helped the Atlanta Braves win the World Series last year. When Atlanta showed little interest in bringing him back, Freeman headed to Los Angeles. Freeman leads the National League with 14 doubles. His batting average (.312), on-base percentage (.409) and OPS (.901) are higher than they were during his last season with the Braves.
Lindor’s batting average during his two seasons with the New York Mets is off the pace he set during his six seasons in Cleveland. He is on pace to set a career-high in RBIs and has helped the Mets move to the top of the NL East. Teammate Pete Alonso (+2200) might end up being the better MVP candidate from the Mets.