MLB Award Index Update: August

Welcome to the next update of the MLB Award Index! Every two weeks, we will be taking a close look at what the index forecasts in terms of MVP and Cy Young voting, looking to find favorable odds on the betting markets, as well as create more accurate projections.

For more information on the basis of the index, and how it goes about projecting future award voting, I recommend you read my introduction piece on the tool. There was a lot of action that took place over the past two weeks, which caused a lot of movement in the betting markets. Were these movements justified? Let’s take a closer look!

AL MVP

Wow! That’s close. Considering that the award index obviously struggles to properly capture Ohtani, who is doing something no player has done before as a superstar two-way player. Thus, although this race would appear to be close by this, I’m more inclined to say Ohtani is running away with the award.

NL MVP

We’ll see if Tatis Jr.’s injury is serious. If he ends up undergoing shoulder surgery and missing the rest of the season, the race behind him becomes complicated. Just based on fWAR, Max Muncy would appear be the most likely candidate to win the NL MVP, and I’d assume he’d get the majority of votes from analytically-inclined voters. Of the other options, Trea Turner and Fredie Freeman are obvious candidates, but Juan Soto is likely the other competitor for Muncy. The 22-year-old has bumped his weighted-runs-created-plus (wRC+) to 148, should perform at a higher level the rest of the way, has a .427 on-base percentage, and also is strong defensively. Keep a very close eye on him.

AL Cy Young

Little change from last time, with Gerrit Cole still the clear favorite to win the AL Cy Young award. By now, we’re far past the spider tack conversation, while Rodon’s velocity has taken a hit in back-to-back games. One of the White Sox pitchers could certainly dominate the final two months and win the award, yet neither did enough to dethrone Cole even considering his June struggles.

NL Cy Young

How the tables have turned! With Jacob deGrom likely out until September, it is time to look at the other candidates for the NL Cy Young award, which we have pushing for you to do previously! With that in mind, Zack Wheeler and Brandon Woodruff appear to be the clear top-two pitchers, with Walker Buehler closing in fast behind. Plus, with Kevin Gausman’s recent struggles, his odds of winning have taken a hit. Right now, though, it is hard to go against Wheeler.

Best Value Bets

AL MVP

NL MVP

Guerrero Jr. is the only justifiable bet of the two AL MVP candidates, but the NL MVP odds offer more intrigue. With Tatis Jr.’s shoulder injury, the other candidates become much more likely to win the award, which doesn’t equate to their current odds. Whether it’s Juan Soto or Max Muncy, both offer a lot of surplus value. Maybe these bets don’t pan out, but given the potential pay-off if they do, they are intriguing long-shot bets.

AL Cy Young

NL Cy Young

I have continued to declare that Gerrit Cole should have better odds to win the AL Cy Young, and with Rodon’s decrease in velocity and Cole’s recent dominant strikeout production, I will continue to do so. Also, what is going on in the National League? Zack Wheeler has a 2.41 FIP and 5 fWAR, but you’re gonna tell me he’s a massive underdog to win the award, behind Buehler and Gausman? How can deGrom be such a massive favorite when he is projected to only pitch 127 innings? These don’t make sense to me, which is why Wheeler and Woodruff, the top-two candidates who aren’t priced as top-three options, are tremendous values right now.

Best Bets: Zack Wheeler to Win NL Cy Young (+2150), Brandon Woodruff To Win NL Cy Young (+1850), Juan Soto To Win NL MVP (+4000), Max Muncy To Win NL MVP (+3000)

Checking In On Previous Bets

For the non-injured players, this is very encouraging! Right now, the Muncy bet looks like there could be massive pay-off, and the same goes for some of the NL Cy Young picks. That is what makes perceived “long shot” bets so beneficial early on in the season, when it is more difficult to project the future and there is a lot of variance. Meanwhile, even Guerrero Jr. is starting to like more like an underdog, Cole looks like the runaway favorite and once wasn’t priced as one.

Overview

While the award races have remained steady in the American League, the same cannot be said in the National League. Injuries to Fernando Tatis Jr. and Jacob deGrom have changed the dynamic of the NL MVP and NL Cy Young award races, which opens up opportunities to find surplus value. As things stand, Zack Wheeler, Brandon Woodruff, Juan Soto, and Max Muncy would all be the bets that fit that bill. Remember, though, to keep a close eye to injury news. Tatis Jr.’s status completely changes the NL MVP race, while deGrom coming back sooner than expected would essentially guarantee him the NL Cy Young award. When more information on these injuries become available, I’d expect the betting markets to adjust significantly, making now the best time to act. We will be back in September to analyze changes in award odds and how it has impacted the betting market!

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