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This week, we focus on the MVP race for the first time post All-Star break. Both leagues have some sizable favorites, but is it worth taking them currently? Or do these big favorites open an opportunity to take a longer shot? Let’s dive into it.
The last time we talked about the American League MVP odds for Judge, you were able to grab him at +165. My, oh my, how things have changed since. No longer is Judge a slight underdog but now he’s an overwhelming favorite. At this rate, it feels as if this award is wrapped up, barring an injury. Judge continues to come up with huge hits for the Yankees and chatter has even begun if he can beat the all-time regular-season home run record of 73, currently held by Barry Bonds. Entering Friday, Judge is sitting at 43 homers with 56 games to go. Now, hitting 30 home runs over that span seems unlikely, but we also saw Judge hit 13 in the month of July, the most he’s hit in any month thus far.
Records aside, Judge has separated himself from Shohei Ohtani by a wide margin. This no longer feels like a two-man race, even if the odds indicate that with Ohtani at +350. While his stuff on the mound has been great, Ohtani really tailed off at the plate in July, hitting .224/.359/.459 with five home runs, 13 RBIs and 12 runs scored. Entering that kind of slump doesn’t help when Judge continues to rake at the plate. At this rate, I think we move on from betting on AL MVP, as all value with Judge is now gone.
The National League race is much, much tighter and one that many will have their eyes on. Currently leading the race is Goldschmidt, who continues to hit for big power in the heart of the Cardinals’ lineup. His incredible month of May is what really got the talk going after he slashed .404/.471/.817 with 10 home runs, 33 RBIs and 20 runs scored. You look at those numbers and think that no one can keep up with that type of production, and it’s true. However, Goldy has come close almost every month and thus continues to be the odds-on favorite. Even after that torrid month of May and through Wednesday, Goldy hit 14 home runs, knocked in 38 runs and scored 39 times. As if that wasn’t enough, through Wednesday he hit .374 with men on base (188 plate appearances) and .394 (!) with men in scoring position (89 plate appearances).
While Goldschmidt isn’t a huge favorite like Judge, he does have a sizable lead over the next man in line, Austin Riley, on whom we’ll go into more detail. If I’m a Goldschmidt backer, you can’t help but be worried about how Riley has been hitting as of late and how quickly he’s moved up the board. As it stands, I wouldn’t be looking to take the favorite in Goldschmidt, as I think Riley has a very legitimate chance to overtake the lead in this NL MVP race. For more on that, let’s get into why I like Riley.
Once upon a time, Riley was nowhere to be found on this MVP board. You’d have to go out of your way to find him, as he was 50-1 to win the MVP. The last time we talked about him here, he cut that number in half and was 25-1, when I mentioned this was still a great value to take. As of Wednesday, Riley had the second-best odds to win the MVP Award. How did we get here so quickly? Well, an insane month of July, much like what we saw from Goldschmidt, took place.
When the calendar turned to August, we looked back at what Riley did in July and were amazed. He slashed .423/.459/.885 with 11 home runs, 15 doubles, 25 RBIs and 21 runs scored. The final game on July 31 also included a walk-off win for the Braves, as he doubled home Matt Olson to steal a game from the D-backs. Riley is currently one home run away from joining Kyle Schwarber as the only two players in the National League with at least 30 home runs. Goldy currently sits at 25 and will undoubtedly join this group soon.
So, while you may not have gotten Riley at a double-digit number, I still like taking him at plus odds at +350. It doesn’t hurt that the Braves will also be seeing a lot of the Nationals and Marlins the rest of the way, playing them a combined 16 times. In 22 games against them already, Riley is hitting .275 with 11 of his 29 home runs, six doubles and 21 RBIs.
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