clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

MLB mid-season MVP and Cy Young favorites from Bovada

The first half of the season has drawn to a close. Who are the favorites to take home the hardware down the home stretch?

87th MLB All-Star Game Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

The All-Star break is nearly over and with Friday’s games brings the official beginning of the season’s second half.

Just in time, Bovada has released their odds for the player’s most likely to win the MVP and Cy Young awards for both leagues. While the lists consist of some usual suspects, it also features some surprises. While gambling odds don’t necessarily express who the actual favorite is, they do a good job of levying some consensus. Let’s take a look:

NL MVP - Odds to Win

Kris Bryant 11/4

Nolan Arenado 3/1

Bryce Harper 9/2

Clayton Kershaw 5/1

Anthony Rizzo 5/1

Daniel Murphy 9/1

Yoenis Cespedes 25/1

Paul Goldschmidt 25/1

Giancarlo Stanton 33/1

The National League MVP was likely considered one of the harder ones to call prior to the season, with many pundits picking the incumbent: Harper.

However, the new kid on the block has certainly cemented his worth among the major leagues. Kris Bryant is the highest ranked position player in the NL by FanGraphs’ WAR and Baseball-Reference WAR while also being the second-best position player by Baseball Prospectus WARP. Interestingly, the top NL player according to Baseball Prospectus isn’t even mentioned above and that’s Buster Posey. According to BP, Posey has saved more than 23 runs with his defense alone. To Bovada’s credit though, MVP voters don’t typically care for defensive value.

While it’s interesting that two third basemen top the list, Arenado’s lead over Harper seems a bit tenuous. While folks may not agree with it—I certainly don’t—the MVP award is typically given to a player on a team bound for the postseason. While the Nationals’ playoff berth isn’t certain by any means, the hope for the Rockies seems distant at best.

A good second half from Goldschmidt or Stanton could certainly shake up the rankings as well. It’s still a pretty open field for the NL MVP.

AL MVP - Odds to Win

Mike Trout 7/2

Josh Donaldson 15/4

Jose Altuve 5/1

Manny Machado 11/2

Robinson Cano 6/1

David Ortiz 6/1

Mookie Betts 12/1

Xander Bogaerts 16/1

Jackie Bradley Jr. 25/1

Miguel Cabrera 25/1

Nelson Cruz 25/1

The American League MVP seems like a two-horse race with some wild cards involved; and it’s the same two horses that we argued about last season. Barring a steep decline from either of the top two stars, Trout or Donaldson will be a major debate this October as well.

Notably, four Red Sox players make the list including the ageless David Ortiz who is having the best season of his career. While the story would be difficult to pass on, the odds of a designated hitter actually taking home the award seem a tad longer than what is expressed above.

With a hot second half, Machado could be a dark horse favorite to upset the binary debate. While his on-base percentage is still 35 points lower than the top two names, his transfer to shortstop has been seamless and could buy some votes from the electorate.

NL Cy Young - Odds to Win

Clayton Kershaw 11/10

Stephen Strasburg 17/4

Madison Bumgarner 9/2

Jake Arrieta 5/1

Johnny Cueto 10/1

Jose Fernandez 12/1

Noah Syndergaard 14/1

With Kershaw the only pitcher on the MVP list, it’s no wonder to see his name top this list. Even further, he’s been otherworldly great this season and continues to build on his performance which already was Cy Young worthy.

Arrieta is the incumbent, but a case could be made that Kershaw probably should have won the last five straight. Despite hitting homers—yes, plural—off of Kershaw this season, Bumgarner also doesn’t seem to pose a legitimate threat to Kershaw’s rightful crown. While Strasburg is having an undeniably great season, a significant amount of his odds value seems to be buoyed by his superior win-loss record—a measure of worth as archaic as measuring a weight by stone.

Early in the season, Syndergaard seemed like a worthy competitor. In fact, his strikeout rate is still up there with Kershaw. However, injury concerns have likely led to his odds getting suppressed.

Fernandez seems like the most legitimate dark horse contender then. He’s the only starter in all of baseball with a better strikeout rate and is pitching only 12 percent worse by FIP-. Only 12 percent... This is what Kershaw has created.

2016 AL Cy Young - Odds to Win

Chris Sale 4/5

Danny Salazar 9/4

Aaron Sanchez 12/1

Steven Wright 12/1

Cole Hamels 16/1

Chris Tillman 16/1

Rick Porcello 25/1

Masahiro Tanaka 25/1

JA Happ 33/1

Prior to the season, this category likely had the highest amount of parity. While I would still contend that there are a lot of names that could win the AL Cy Young, Sale and Salazar appear by far the most legitimate.

If you’re a fan of win-loss record, Sale’s 14-3 record could leap off the page ahead of Salazar’s 10-3. However, Sale’s FIP of 3.74 pales slightly in comparison to Salazar’s superior mark of 3.39. Amazingly though, the FIP leader of the American League is Corey Kluber at 2.95 and his name is completely omitted.

While Sanchez has been undeniably great as well, his odds will no doubt get longer as the Blue Jays intend to move him to the bullpen at some point near the end of the season. With this being his first full work load in the major leagues as a starter, limiting his innings will certainly be on the agenda and definitely hurt his Cy Young odds.

With the Rangers pushing for another postseason berth, the dark horse could be Hamels. While his transition to the American League hasn’t been altogether smooth according to the advanced metrics, a hot second half could definitely supplant Sale whose team may fail to make the postseason.