2022 MLB Season: Best Bets on MVP, Cy Young, Home Run Leader and More Ahead of Opening Day
Major League Baseball’s 2022 season is about to kick off. It’s been delayed somewhat, although not significantly, and thankfully in the coming months we won’t have to think about negotiating things like the CBT or the bonus pool before arbitration or anything like that. No, instead we can start thinking about fun things like who could win the NL MVP, lead the majors at home runs, or save the most games.
That’s right, we’re going to go through some individual awards here and pick a few. I’ll list the favorite via Caesars Sportsbook on each entry and then make a “value” pick – someone who has a decent chance of winning and at the odds that make it a quality pick – and a longshot to look at. In the latter case, it’s someone who probably won’t end up being the winner, but also has a long-range shot if everything breaks right and could bring all bettors a nice stroke of luck.
Let us begin!
Leader: Shohei Ohtani, +350
Value selection: Bo Bichette, +2500
Long shot to watch: Matt Chapman, +10000
I don’t like the odds here on Ohtani. Not only is it extremely unlikely he’ll be able to stay healthy and play both pitching and hitting at a high level all year round — there’s a reason he got some well-deserved fanfare last season — but voter fatigue is absolutely something , that happened for years. Even if he repeats last year, there is a block of voters who will try to get the award elsewhere (Vladimir Guerrero at +500 is a better bet among the favorites and he’s my pick).
Vlad Jr.’s teammate Bichette led the AL in hits in his first full MLB season at the age of 23 last year. He hit .298/.343/.484 while homering 29 times, driving in over 100 runs and stealing 25 bases. If the power keeps growing, his all-around game is very tempting at these odds.
Another Blue Jay, Chapman, previously finished sixth in the MVP voting. Last year he was terrible on the plate, but he also had hip surgery. If he hits more like 2019, he’s capable of nearly 40 homers with a huge RBI number, and his defense would push the WAR down to around 8. I don’t think he’ll win, but these odds suggest it’s worth a look.
Leader: Juan Soto, +300
Value selection: Matt Olson, +2500
Long shot to watch: Jorge Soler, +7500
I love Soto but he would have to blow the field, maybe exponentially, to win against such a bad team. The three +900 guys (Freddie Freeman, Mookie Betts, and Bryce Harper) make more sense among the favorites to me. Trea Turner at +1500 is pretty darn tempting too.
Olson is my clear pick for MVP, so we love those odds. The story of his return home (he’s from the Atlanta area and lived there before the trade) and Freeman’s replacement will carry weight with some voters when it comes close. He had 39 home runs and 111 RBI last season, with his home park being one of the hardest in the league to hit, while Truist Park is more neutral or even hitter-friendly.
At Soler, we’ve seen its benefits before. He had 48 home runs and 117 RBI in 2019. Let’s say behind their sneaky pitching staff, the Marlins struggle all season while Soler posts monster power numbers to give offense a boost. Stranger things have happened.
AL Cy Young
Leader: Gerrit Cole, +350
Value selection: Justin Verlander, +2000
Long shot to watch: John means +10000
Cole is my pick here and I don’t really like the odds for anyone. It’s a tough league and most players have big question marks.
We have no idea what kind of workload Verlander can handle, but he had Tommy John surgery on October 1st, 2020. This means that the season starts more than 18 months later. He should be back. How far back? Who knows. But we know he’s good enough to win it if he goes even like 165 innings.
As for Means, he was sidelined for a while last season with a shoulder injury and he’s had a tough race in the last 10 starts. Nevertheless, he proved to be a very capable, well above-average starter. In a full season of health, he could post a low 3.00 second ERA in about 200 innings. You never know in this department. The good thing is that the WL record probably hardly matters anymore. And tell you what, when Means puts up big numbers against the attacks of the Blue Jays, Rays, Yankees and Red Sox, he gets bonus points.
I was thinking of Liam Hendriks with the same chances as Means but I don’t think a closer win is possible anymore. Look at Zack Britton’s 2016 season and note that he finished fourth. It just won’t happen. Means has better chances.
NL Cy Young
Leader: Max Scherzer, +500
Value selection: Walker Buehler, +900
Long shot to watch: Freddie Peralta, +6000
Max Scherzer and reigning Cy Young winner Corbin Burnes (+800) are the chalk picks and both would be good choices. Jacob deGrom was the favorite before it was announced over the weekend that he will miss more than a month of the season.
Sure, Buehler is less “value” than the other value picks, but he’s my pick to win the prize, so I’m happy to take the 9-1. He enters his season aged 27 after finishing fourth last year and looking as strong as ever.
Peralta only pitched 144 1/3 innings last season, but he packed 195 strikeouts in those innings, along with a 2.81 ERA and a .97 WHIP. A shoulder injury limited him somewhat after the All-Star break. Imagining a 2022 in full health, Peralta can maybe work up about 167 innings, and that’s all it took for Burnes to win last year. With that workload, and even with a slight improvement in its rate stats, Peralta would be a threat.
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Leader: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., +1000
Value selection: Matt Olson, +2000
Long shot to watch: Kyle Schwarber, +3500
That’s really fun. How many people had either Guerrero or Salvador Perez last season? They shared the crown at 48 and Ohtani was third at 46. It shows just how volatile this category can be. Of course I like Olson as I already picked him to win the NL MVP. Some others near the top that make sense:
Schwarber hit 32 homers in just 399 at-bats last regular season and hit three more in his first eight playoff games. He’s finally going to get his first 40 homer season, I’ll say that much. And since I’ve come this far, yes, why not? Schwarber is the pick to lead the majors on home runs.
Also, Spencer Torkelson is +15000 (150-1). Last season, he hit 30 times in 431 minor-league at-bats, including 11 times in his last 119 triple-A at-bats.
MLB RBI leader
Leader: Vladimir Guerrero, Jr., +850
Value selection: Jose Abreu, +2000
Long shot to watch: Christian Yelich, +7500
Even more of a crapshoot than the HRs, which means it can be fun. Alvarez checks in second (+1200) on the odds board here and would make a good pick. Rafael Devers at +1400 and Olson (+1600) would also work.
The +2000 line is prolific, with Nolan Arenado, Manny Machado, Harper, Judge, and my pick: Abreu.
Abreu was second last season, first in 2020 and second in 2019. He’ll also score in the middle of a great White Sox lineup.
It’s hard to say what happened to Yelich. He was possibly the top hitter in the majors for a stretch that spanned both 2018 and 2019. Then he broke his kneecap on a foulball, had an incredibly weird 2020 (what, hey, that’s normal for the 2020 course) and was pretty bad last season, giving him an immense level of talent. He’s still only 30 years old, however, and a return to form puts him squarely in the mix.
MLB strikeouts leader
Leader: Gerrit Cole, +400
Value selection: Zack Wheeler, +1200
Long shot to watch: Kevin Gausman, +4000
Cole, Scherzer (+600), and last year’s winner Ray (+600) are all good picks. Shane Bieber had 259 strikeouts in 2019 and led the majors in 2020 (although he only competed against other Central Division teams) before hitting 134 strikeouts in 96 2/3 innings last year. He is available at +1100.
Wheeler finished just one from the lead last year and is getting really good odds.
Gausman was sixth in baseball with 227 (Ray had 248 to lead). He’s going to a breath-heavy AL East (the Rays were third in strikeouts in the majors last year, the Yankees were sixth and Orioles were 10th while he doesn’t have to face his new teammates, the Blue Jays at No. 30) and we just saw, how the Jays got the best out of Ray.
I’ll go with Cole, but I really like both Wheeler and Gausman here. Each of them works.
MLB saves league leaders
Leader: Aroldis Chapman and Edwin Diaz, +600
Value selection: Liam Hendriks, +1000
Long shots to watch: Camilo Doval, +2500; Corey Gag, +3000
The Hendriks placement was difficult for me to understand. He was arguably the best assistant in baseball for the last three years combined. He was just one of Mark Melancon’s last year, who now plays for a brutal Diamondbacks team. Hendriks is still with a team that will win many games in the White Sox and has a permanent manager who absolutely manages to save when possible. And yet five helpers are above him on the odds list (Chapman, Diaz, Raisel Iglesias, Ryan Pressly and Emmanuel Clase. Jump on that one. He’s my pick.
Kenley Jansen at +1000 is also looking pretty good. So does Josh Hader at +1200.
I think Doval has what it takes to be baseball’s best closer, maybe even this year. We still can’t be sure how the Giants will use it, of course, but I like 25-1.
The longer of the longshots is gag. He’s struggled with arm injuries throughout his pro career, but when he’s healthy he can be one of the best. He was amazing for the Brewers in 2017, saving 39 games with a 1.78 ERA and 126 strikeouts in 76 innings. Given the volatility of the Phillies’ bullpen in recent years, manager Joe Girardi would happily keep just one closer this season and pump him full of rescue opportunities.