MLB MVP Futures Prediction System

A special baseball post by request…

2021 MLB MVP Odds: AL & NL MVP Betting Guide | Odds Shark
2021 MLB Favorites

The MLB awards both an NL and AL MVP every season. The MVPs are determined by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BWAA) The actual voting takes place just before the MLB postseason, yet results are not announced until after the World Series. There are plenty of write ups you’ll find around the internet, heck even this site, that will give you advice on specific bets to make on the MVP futures race, however  we’re going to take a more “Macro approach” here. Zooming out a bit we’ll provide some objective clues to give bettors a framework to use among the specific players you feel strongly about.

Let leadoff with the 2021 AL and NL MVP frontrunners/current odds (listed below, all in + lines). 

AL MVP OddsNL MVP Odds
Mike Trout175Mookie Betts500
Alex Bregman1000Christian Yelich700
Jose Abreu1000Ronald Acuna Jr.750
Aaron Judge1100Cody Bellinger800
Shohei Ohtani2000Freddie Freeman800
Francisco Lindor2000Fernando Tatis Jr.1000
Anthony Rendon2000Juan Soto1000
Matt Chapman2300Nolan Arenado1000
Gleybar Torres2500Bryce Harper1200
DJ LeMahieu2500Ketel Marte1400
Gerrit Cole3000Trevor Story2000
George Springer3000Eugenio Suarez2000
Jose Ramirez3000Kris Bryant2000
Yoan Moncada3000Paul Goldschimdt2000
Shane Bieber3000Pete Alonso2500
Nelson Cruz3000Jacob deGrom2800
Yordan Alvarez3500Manny Machado3000
Matt Olson4000Rhys Hoskins3000
Eloy Jimenez4000Marcell Ozuna3000
Xander Bogaerts4000Corey Seager3500
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.4000Javier Baez4000

When predicting the MVP, as with anything else, we should look to the past and reverse engineer our way to a baseline of options. Instead of viewing all the frontrunners above and working from there, let’s see how recent award winner’s odds were going in to the regular season to understand what actual MVP winners odds look like preseason.

Historical Odds of Winners (last 12 years)

YearAL WinnerOddsNL WinnerOdds
2020Jose Abreu (CHW)6000Freddie Freeman (ATL)2500
2019Mike Trout (LAA)125Cody Bellinger (LAD)3000
2018Mookie Betts (BOS)2500Christian Yelich (MIL)15000
2017Jose Altuve (HOU)1200Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)4500
2016Mike Trout (LAA)160Kris Bryant (CHC)1000
2015Josh Donaldson (TOR)1600Bryce Harper (WAS)2000
2014Mike Trout (LAA)500Clayton Kershaw (LAD)2000
2013Miguel Cabrera (DET)700Andrew McCutchen (PIT)1500
2012Miguel Cabrera (DET)900Buster Posey (SFG)2500
2011Justin Verlander (DET)7500Ryan Braun (MIL)800
2010Josh Hamilton (TEX)1000Joey Votto (CIN)5000
AVG+2017+3618

As you can see above, rarely has the favorite actually ended up as the MVP. The NL MVP winner specifically, seems to be an absolute crapshoot, averaging out to  +3618 preseason odds, while the AL averaged out to +2017 preseason odds. Given this, it’s hard to view any of the top 2-4 favorites as a likely positive Expected Value (EV) play. That is, even if Trout ends up winning the 2021 MVP, as he’s a big favorite to do so, the payout isn’t worth the fact (we’ve discovered) big favorites don’t typically bring home the hardware. I would recommend working from the +800/+1000 and up.

After that we can cross out any player on a team with a low win projection given that MVPs rarely come from player’s sitting at home in October. That leaves us with the following options:

AL MVP OddsNL MVP Odds
Shohei Ohtani2000*Freddie Freeman+800
Francisco Lindor2000Fernando Tatis Jr.1000
Anthony Rendon2000Juan Soto1000
Matt Chapman2300Bryce Harper1200
Gleybar Torres2500Ketel Marte1400
DJ LeMahieu2500Paul Goldschimdt2000
Gerrit Cole3000Kris Bryant2000
George Springer3000Eugenio Suarez2000
Jose Ramirez3000Pete Alonso2500
Yoan Moncada3000Jacob deGrom2800
Shane Bieber3000Rhys Hoskins3000
Nelson Cruz3000Marcell Ozuna3000
Yordan Alvarez3500Manny Machado3000
Matt Olson4000Corey Seager3500
Eloy Jimenez4000Javier Baez4000
Vladimir Guerrero Jr.4000

Here is the last, but most critical part. It’s quite a labor intensive process, but has the chance to have the greatest impact. Although there are significant rules prohibiting the BWAA members from DIRECTLY disclosing their selections (trust me I tried), the MVP picks are made by humans. Humans with twitter accounts. We will be running a formal study documenting keywords each voter uses relative to MVP candidates, but in the meantime, I would suggest doing your homework and investigating their content if you are planning to make a serious bet.

Below you can find the entire roster of the AL and NL MVP selectors along with links to their bio/social media accounts.

NameAffiliationTeam(s) coveredJob description
Andrew WagnerWisconsin State JournalBrewersBeat Writer
Anthony CastrovinceMLB.comAllColumnist
Barry M. BloomForbesAllColumnist
Bill PlunkettOrange County RegisterDodgersBeat Writer
Bill ShaikinLos Angeles TimesAllNational writer
Bob DuttonAt largeMarinersBeat Writer
Bob ElliottCanadian Baseball NetworkAll, Blue JaysNational writer
C. Trent RosecransThe AthleticRedsBeat Writer
Clark SpencerMiami HeraldMarlinsBeat Writer
Dan HayesThe AthleticTwinsBeat Writer
Dan SzymborskiESPN.comAllColumnist
Dejan KovacevicDKPittsburghSports.comPiratesColumnist
Eric StephenSB NationAllNational writer
Evan DrellichThe AthleticAllNational writer
Evan GrantDallas Morning NewsRangersBeat Writer
Grant BrisbeeThe AthleticGiantsColumnist
J.P. HoornstraSouthern California News GroupDodgersBeat Writer
Jane LeeMLB.comA’sBeat Writer
Jason FosterThe Sporting NewsAllEditor
Jay JaffeSports IllustratedAllColumnist
Jeff FletcherOrange County RegisterAngelsBeat Writer
Jeff PassanESPNAllNational writer
Jim AlexanderRiverside Press EnterpriseAngels, Dodgers, PadresColumnist
Jorge L. OrtizUSA TODAYAllNational writer
Kyle GlaserBaseball AmericaAllNational writer
LaVelle E. Neal IIIMinneapolis Star TribuneTwinsBeat Writer
Leonte LandinoESPN DeportesAllEditor
Lou DiPietroYES NetworkYankeesBeat writer
Lynn HenningDetroit NewsTigersBackup
Marc TopkinTampa Bay TimesRaysBeat Writer
Mark NewmanAt largeAllEditor
Mark SheldonMLB.comRedsBeat Writer
Mark ZuckermanMASNsports.comNationalsBeat Writer
Matt GelbThe AthleticPhilliesBeat Writer
Matt SnyderCBS SportsAllNational writer
Michael AxisaCBS SportsAllNational writer
Mike HarringtonBuffalo NewsBlue JaysColumnist
Mike PetrielloMLB.comAllAnalyst
Nick PiecoroThe Arizona RepublicDiamondbacksBeat Writer
Paul SullivanChicago TribuneCubs, White SoxBeat writer
Peter AbrahamThe Boston GlobeRed SoxBeat Writer
Rhett BollingerMLB.comAngelsBeat Writer
Ricardo MontesESPN Deportes MiamiMarlinsColumnist
Rob BiertempfelPittsburgh Tribune-ReviewPiratesBeat Writer
Roberto ColonEl Nuevo Dia / Unanimo DeportesAllNational writer
Ryan FaganSporting NewsAllNational Writer
Scott LauberPhiladelphia InquirerPhilliesBeat Writer
Steve BuckleyThe AthleticRed SoxColumnist
Ted BergAt largeAllNational writer
Tony DeMarcoFanRagSports.comAllNational writer
Tyler KepnerNew York TimesAllNational writer
Zach BuchananThe AthleticDiamondbacksBeat Writer
Zack MeiselThe AthleticIndiansBeat Writer

In summary, when predicting MLB MVPs:

  • Ignore the top 2-4 favorites, and stick to the +2000 or above level
  • Eliminate players from likely low wn total teams
  • Use human nature against the voters, and do your due diligence by finding clues on their twitter accounts

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