The National League Most Valuable Player race was in flux before the season began when San Diego Padres shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. suffered an injury that has kept him sidelined throughout the first half of the season. Now another MVP candidate’s odds are taking a tumble.
Bryce Harper of the Philadelphia Phillies injured his thumb while being hit by a Blake Snell pitch. He’ll undergo thumb surgery and is expected to miss six weeks, which would pretty much put an end to Harper’s MVP candidacy.
Even before Harper’s injury. St. Louis Cardinals’ first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was emerging as the MVP front-runner according to the MLB betting lines. Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles and Pete Alonso of the New York Mets are his main competition as the season approaches the midway point.
Here’s a look at the leaders at the current time.
Team: St. Louis Cardinals
Top 5 MVP finishes: Finished second in 2013 and 2015. Finished third in 2017.
Goldschmidt has led the National League in home runs and RBIs during the 2013 season when he also set the pace in slugging percentage. He had the most walks in 2016. However, he is putting together his most complete season 11 years after breaking into the majors with Arizona.
Goldschmidt leads the National League with a .347 batting average, .429 on-base percentage, and .642 slugging percentage.
Goldy wants some golden arches! pic.twitter.com/ENRd42axo0
— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) June 28, 2022
Goldschmidt is on pace to set career-highs with 203 hits, 51 doubles, 41 home runs and 136 RBIs.
There’s plenty of baseball left but Goldschmidt has risen to +135 in the MVP odds according to the sportsbook. That’s pretty impressive considering that at one point during the season, teammate Nolan Arenado was the St. Louis infielder receiving the most MVP buzz.
If Goldschmidt were to win, he would become the first honoree from the Cardinals since Albert Pujols won his third MVP in a five-year span in 2009.
Team: New York Mets
Top 5 MVP finishes: None
With the way Alonso burst onto the scene as a rookie in 2019, it would be easy to believe that he has been in the running for MVP awards on an annual basis. However, his seventh-place finish in 2019 was the best showing for the power-hitting first baseman.
Alonso hit .231 and .262 over the next two seasons and had 53 homers in 209 games.
It has been a different deal in 2022. He struck out 31% of the time as a rookie but that number has fallen to 24% this season. With more balls being put in play, Alonso is hitting a career-best .281. He is on pace for 48 home runs and 151 RBIs.
With the Mets having the best record in the National League, it is no wonder that his MVP odds have gone from +2800 heading into the season to +550. When it comes to the MLB picks, Alonso would be a solid choice.
No player from the Mets has ever been the regular-season MVP in the National League.
Team: San Diego Padres
Top 5 MVP finishes: Finished third in 2020. Finished fourth in 2015 and fifth in 2016 (both of those came in the American League with the Baltimore Orioles).
Machado has accomplished quite a bit during his first 10 seasons in the major leagues. However, he has never hit better than .300 when appearing in at least 100 games.
Machado is currently hitting .328 and despite missing nine games, he has 17 doubles, 12 homers, 48 runs and 46 RBIs along with 30 walks.
Machado would be on pace for 104 runs, 37 doubles, 26 home runs, 99 RBIs, 15 stolen bases and 65 walks. However, he is currently sidelined due to an ankle injury.
Machado isn’t on pace for any career-best totals but put together, but all of his numbers together do make him an MVP candidate.
His odds have risen to +550 which is tied for Alonso for second. He continues to be a popular choice among those who bet online.
Team: Los Angeles Dodgers
Top 5 MVP finishes: Won the American League MVP Award in 2018. Betts was second in AL race in 2016 and was National League MVP runner-up in 2020.
Betts is currently on the injured list which is unfortunate because he was starting to heat up. His .273 batting average, 13 doubles, 17 home runs and 40 RBIs in 60 games does not scream MVP candidate. He had a huge May with a .342 average, 31 runs, 10 doubles, 12 home runs and 27 RBIs. Things were trending in the other direction when the calendar flipped to June before his injury.
Betts came into the season with +1200 odds to win the MVP award. He is still sitting at +1200.
Best of the rest
It is worth mentioning that two other members of the Los Angeles Dodgers are also MVP candidates. Shortstop Trea Turner (+1600) is hitting .313 with 17 doubles, 10 home runs, 53 RBIs and 15 stolen bases. First baseman Freddie Freeman (+2200) has a .304 average, 24 doubles, 47 runs and 46 RBis.
The preseason favorite was Juan Soto of the Washington Nationals. A .223 average with 14 home runs and 31 RBIs have sent his odds crashing from +400 to +4000.
Harper is not the only MVP candidate who has been impacted by injury.
Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr. is at +2200. That number is a little surprising considering that he has been limited to 43 games this season. Acuna didn’t make his 2022 season debut until April 28 as he recovered from a knee injury. Now he is dealing with a foot issue. He is hoping to return to the lineup shortly. Acuna came into the season at +800 to win the MVP award even though it was known that he would be missing time at the start of the season.
Former MVP Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers had +2800 odds heading into the season. Those odds have fallen to +10000 as he ranks eighth among Milwaukee players with at least 100 at-bats in OPS.