This weekend the calendar turns to July, and Tuesday is Independence Day. This is the midway point of the baseball season and a great time for teams and fantasy players to take stock.
If we’re giving out awards at the halfway mark, the two MVP races appear to me to both be wrapped up, but the two Cy Young races are still very much up in the air … and it appears Las Vegas agrees. Let’s take a look at the current odds, as well as the bets I like at this point.
Current MLB MVP Leaders
In the AL, Shohei Ohtani is the runaway favorite to win another MVP. He’s a 1:14 favorite at the moment, meaning you have to risk $1,400 to win $100 if you bet him … it’s still a good bet, by the way. Something cataclysmic would need to happen to Ohtani for him not to win the award this year. He’s sitting with 57 runs, 28 HRs and 64 RBIs, to go along with 11 SBs. And he has a .309 AVG and a 1.048 OPS. He may break Aaron Judge’s 62-HR mark last year … and did I mention he pitches?
It’s not quite the same runaway in the NL, but it’s not that far off. Ronald Acuña Jr. is a 1:2 favorite, meaning you have to risk $200 to win $100. But his hitting numbers may be even more insane than Ohtani’s. He has 71 runs, 19 HRs, 51 RBIs and 36 SBs. His average isn’t too shabby either; he’s batting .331 to go along with an OPS of .993. He only needs 11 more HRs to already hit the 30/30 mark, and if he can pick up his pace a smidge, he’ll crack the 40/40 mark … if he can go on a little HR tear, he’ll approach a 50/50 season.
Current Cy Young Leaders
At the moment, Tampa Bay starter Shane McClanahan is the leader in the AL Cy Young race at +250, which means if you wager $100 on him, you’ll win $250. This isn’t a terrible bet. He’s the only pitcher in the AL with double-digit wins, sporting an 11-1 record. He also has the lowest ERA in the AL of all pitchers with at least 90 innings pitched, at 2.23. He’s striking out over a batter per inning and has a low 1.12 WHIP. There are other pitchers who can certainly string a handful of starts together and take it away from him, but I can’t look past that 11-1 record.
In the NL, the race for Cy Young is definitely more muddled. Zac Gallen is sitting at +200, Clayton Kershaw is at +300 and Spencer Strider is at +850. At this moment, my vote would go to Kershaw. The old man is getting it done. He’s 10-4 with 105 Ks. And he has a 2.55 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP. Unfortunately, it was just announced that he has a shoulder issue and is out until at least July 3rd. My guess is the Dodgers will keep him out until after the All-Star Game, and who knows how he’ll pitch once he’s back … assuming it’s nothing serious.
If Kershaw’s injury derails his Cy Young campaign, Strider is an intriguing option. Although his 3.73 ERA leaves a lot to be desired, Strider has a very solid 1.11 WHIP and is leading the NL in Ks with 146. When the season started, I predicted there’d be a 300-strikeout pitcher, and Strider is close to that pace. He’s sitting with a 9-2 record on a very good Atlanta Braves team. At +850, I’d make a value bet on him.