Award season is here.
Less than 24 hours after the BBWAA released their 2020 MLB major award finalists, we’ve been hit with some odds on who should take home the hardware.
While the odds are sure to shift from now until their expiry on the evening of Wed, Nov. 11, let’s ensure we hop in this in a hurry and lock in some value while it’s there!
*Note that odds for Manager of the Year aren’t currently available. We will update this article if/when those become available
**Odds courtesy of BetOnline
Odds & Predictions for MLB’s 2020 Major Award Winners
Most Valuable Player
- Freddie Freeman, Braves (-200)
- Mookie Betts, Dodgers (+200)
- Manny Machado, Padres (+900)
Freeman: In late October, Freeman was acknowledged by his peers as the National League’s most outstanding player as per the MLB Players Choice Awards, and it’s not difficult to see why. Freeman’s 3.4 fWAR led the senior circuit in 2020 and tied Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez for the top mark in baseball. He also hit .341 with a 1.102 OPS, .456 wOBA and 187 wRC+. His walk rate of 17.2% exceeded his 14.1% K-rate and he appeared in all 60 of the Braves regular-season games.
FREDDIE FREEMAN GOES DEEP 🚀
Second-straight game with a homer to give the Braves the early lead.
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 13, 2020
Needless to say, he was also a Statcast darling. Statcast ranked him in the league’s 100th percentile in xwOBA, xBA and xSLG. He also ranked in the 91st percentile or better in K-rate (91st), exit velocity (91st), barrel rate (92nd) and hard hit rate (96th). He also played quality defense as he ranked in the 69th percentile in outs above average at first base.
Add in the odds and it’s hard to see anyone but Freeman taking down the NL MVP this season.
Betts: If the postseason were included in this award, Betts would have a better chance at pulling off the upset, or could even be favored.
The 2018 AL MVP shined bright in his first season in Hollywood, clubbing 16 home runs while ranking just behind Freeman in several advanced categories such as his 3.0 fWAR. That said, it’s Betts’ overall game that helped him achieve the second-best fWAR in the NL as his base running and defense are among the league’s best. Betts was named a Gold Glove candidate in right field this season.
He stole 10 bases and was ranked in the league’s 96th percentile in outs above average and 81st in outfielder jump. He fell behind others in the wOBA and wRC+ categories at the plate, and his RBI count was diminished by way of hitting in the leadoff spot from mid-August on. He also finished fourth in runs scored (47) while Freeman led the circuit with 51.
He’ll be in this conversation for much of his 12-year pact with the Dodgers, but it doesn’t appear he’ll reach the summit in 2020, at least not in this race after winning his second career World Series ring.
Machado: There’s no doubt Machado had a big second season in San Diego after disappointing in his first tour of duty, but there’s an argument to be made that he’s not even the MVP of his own team.
Machado and Fernando Tatis Jr. formed one of the top duos in baseball in 2020, but the latter posted a 2.9 fWAR to Machado’s 2.6 mark. He also ranked ahead – albeit just slightly – of Machado in the home run, runs scored, stolen bases, ISO, wOBA and wRC+ categories. FanGraphs has Machado ahead of him with the glove by way of both their Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and UZR/150 departments, but there’s a real case to be made that Tatis Jr. should have appeared here at the ripe old age of 21 over his teammate, although it’s close.
Nonetheless, Machado isn’t winning NL MVP in 2020.
- Jose Abreu, White Sox (-110)
- Jose Ramirez, Indians (+110)
- DJ LeMahieu, Yankees (+900)
Abreu: Fans and writers alike salivated over the White Sox and their elite young talent heading into the 2020 season, but it was their veteran leader that led the way instead.
Only Luke Voit hit more home runs than Abreu’s 19 among AL participants, which also happened to be the second-most in all of baseball. Abreu also hit .317 with an AL-best .617 SLG while only LeMahieu posted a superior wRC+ to Abreu’s 167.
Playing the first base position limits his overall value and combined with his lack of speed, his 2.6 fWAR slipped well behind Ramirez’s 3.4 mark, but Statcast was a big fan of glove, ranking him in the league’s 82nd percentile in outs above average. FanGraphs also credited him with +5 DRS on the season, good for a career-high, while he appeared in all 60 games for the White Sox this season.
Ramirez: Leading the league in fWAR is a good way to get your name on this ballot as Ramirez’s white-hot finish to the season firmly put him in this race.
From September 15 through the end of the regular season, Ramirez homered six times in 13 games, drove in 18 and posted a 1.411 OPS, .566 wOBA, 266 wRC+ and 1.3 fWAR, all of which led baseball save for home runs.
On the whole, Ramirez hit 17 home runs, stole 10 bases, posted an AL-best .315 ISO and worked to a .993 OPS, .415 wOBA and 163 wRC+. That said, Statcast wasn’t nearly as favorable of his work compared to his surface results as he ranked in the 48th percentile in exit velocity and 32nd in hard hit rate while his sprint speed was just in the 59th percentile despite the 10 swipes.
Like Machado, there’s an argument to be made that Ramirez isn’t even the MVP of his own team as some would favor Shane Bieber in that race after the right-hander won the pitching triple crown, leading the junior circuit in wins, strikeouts and ERA. Such as circumstance could limit the value potential as a slight underdog.
LeMahieu: After falling short of the 2020 batting title in his first season in the Bronx, LeMahieu’s .364 average from this season was good enough to capture it this time around. He also led the AL with a .429 wOBA and 177 wRC+ while playing first base, second base and third base in 2020.
He missed 10 games, however, and didn’t grade particularly well at any of the three infield positions. He also doesn’t have the gaudy power numbers that Abreu and Ramirez put forth. The Yankees received a ton of value from the two-year, $24M pact LeMahieu signed prior to the 2019 season, but the free agent isn’t going to command the AL MVP in 2020.
With much of Ramirez’s candidacy coming in the final two weeks of the season, I think the voters will lean towards Abreu who was consistently dominant at the plate throughout the shortened season.
- Trevor Bauer, Reds (-125)
- Yu Darvish, Cubs (+150)
- Jacob deGrom, Mets (+550)
Bauer: Another player hitting the open market on a high note, Bauer was dominant with the Reds in 2020 after struggling mightily with the club following a trade deadline deal from Cleveland in 2019.
Bauer’s 1.73 ERA led the National League and his 12.33 K/9 was good for second behind deGrom’s 13.76 mark. Rather than check the leaderboard for his ranks when it comes to this race, perhaps it’s wiser to consider his major passing of the eye-test down the stretch.
Trevor Bauer doing the McGregor strut after his 12th K 👏
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) September 24, 2020
As the Reds scratched and clawed for a playoff berth down the stretch, Bauer was busy turning in a 1.29 ERA and 11.83 K/9 over his final five starts. His final start came on short rest and he helped pitched the Reds into the postseason with eight innings of one-run ball with 12 strikeouts in a win over the Brewers.
Despite ranking third behind the other two finalists with a 2.5 fWAR, the charismatic right-hander certainly thinks it’s his award to lose at the moment.
Darvish: In any other year, Darvish’s work would put him in the driver’s seat, but he enters the race as an underdog with stiff competition throughout.
His 3.0 fWAR led all NL starters and his 2.01 ERA ranked second behind Bauer. Only teammate Kyle Hendricks put forth a superior K/BB ratio than Darvish’s 6.64 mark as he bested both Bauer and deGrom who finished third and fourth, respectively, in that department.
While the jury is out on how voters value wins in today’s picture, Darvish paced all NL hurlers with eight victories in his 12 starts this season.
Again, Darvish would be a clear front-runner most season, but Bauer’s work in 2020 has Darvish coming in as a notable underdog despite his elite performance this season.
deGrom: It appears deGrom is going to fall short on his bid for a third consecutive NL Cy Young award.
His 2.6 fWAR was the second-best mark in the NL and his 13.76 K/9 was the best in the circuit, but he actually slipped to fourth with a 2.38 ERA as the Padres’ Dinelson Lamet snuck into third behind Bauer and Darvish with a 2.09 mark.
His 2.26 FIP ranked second and his 2.46 xFIP first, but his four victories not only ranked him in a tie for 10th among 20 qualified starters but a share of 16th among pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched this season.
In a tight race, I like the value we’re getting here with Bauer as he should edge out Darvish for his first career Cy Young.
- Shane Bieber, Indians (-5000)
- Kenta Maeda, Twins (+2000)
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, Blue Jays (+2000)
All due respect to Maeda and Ryu who had real nice seasons, the biggest lock of the year easily goes to Bieber who will cruise to his first career Cy Young award.
Bieber not only led the American League with a 1.63 ERA and 122 strikeouts, but those were the best marks in baseball as well. His eight wins led the AL and tied Darvish for the MLB lead while his 3.2 fWAR was the best mark among big-league pitchers.
Shane Bieber has 27 strikeouts through his first two starts, tying the Major League record.
— Cleveland Indians (@Indians) July 31, 2020
His rough outing in Game 1 of the Wild Card round against the Yankees won’t factor into this decision as Bieber was not only the best pitcher in baseball this season, but arguably the best player and an AL MVP snub, in my opinion.
Rookie of the Year
- Alec Bohm, Phillies (-140)
- Jake Cronenworth, Padres (+190)
- Devin Williams, Brewers (+450)
Bohm: The Phillies’ top prospect proved why he was just that after getting the mid-August call to The Show.
Bohm hit .338 with an .881 OPS, .381 wOBA and 138 wRC+ in 44 games, adding four homers and 11 doubles to his resume. That said, while the batting average and OPS are excellent on the surface, there might be reason to fade the favorite here.
Bohm’s 1.2 fWAR ranked behind Cronenworth and the Pirates’ Ke’Bryan Hayes among NL rookies while his .144 ISO ranked 26th among big-league rookies and 10th among NL qualified rookies. He just didn’t hit for a ton of power, he stole just one base and his 138 wRC + ranked fourth among NL rookies.
Not that this should matter much in the voting, but his . 338 average was also had on the back of a bloated and unsustainable .410 BABIP, a number that will plummet next season in (hopefully) a far bigger sample.
He also appeared in 10 fewer games than Cronenworth, so I’m on the fade train when it comes to the NL ROY award.
Cronenworth: He might not have been the headliner in the offseason trade with the Rays that brought in outfielder Tommy Pham, but Cronenworth was a difference-maker with the Padres this season.
He not only hit .285 with four homers, three steals, an .831 OPS, .356 wOBA and 125 wRC+, but he did so while logging time at all four infield positions, but mostly played second base where he logged 3030.1 innings.
Unlike Bohm, he hit for notable power in the form of a .192 ISO and his work at the plate seems far more sustainable with a .324 BABIP while Statcast pegged him in the league’s 84th percentile or better in K-rate (84th), whiff rate (91st), sprint speed (92nd), xSLG(91st), xBA (98th), xwOBA (95th) and outs above average (89th).
He didn’t do this in the big leagues this season, but the dude even pitched 7.1 innings of shutout ball at the Triple-A level with the Rays’ organization in 2019.
It appears he’s in a good position to pull off the upset.
Williams: Three relief pitchers have won the NL Rookie of the Year award and another five have accomplished the feat in the American League since the award began being handed out in both leagues in 1949.
Williams wasn’t the Brewers’ closer, however, so he doesn’t have the saves on his resume that all eight of the previous winners have. That said, there’s nothing more this guy could have done to earn this award.
Williams 0.33 ERA not only led all NL rookies by at least a full run (Dodgers’ Victor Gonzalez finished with a 1.33 mark), but it led all of baseball, as did his 0.86 FIP and 1.09 xFIP. For good measure, he tied Indians rookie James Karinchak for the MLB lead with 17.67 K/9 and his 22.3% swinging strike rate also led all of baseball.
Hitters are 1-for-59 with 41 Ks against Devin Williams’ changeup. 😱
— MLB (@MLB) September 23, 2020
And if all of that were not enough, he led all NL relievers with a 1.4 fWAR, a number that tied Oakland A’s closer Liam Hendriks for the best mark in the sport.
To recap, among MLB relievers, Williams ranked:
- 1.4 fWAR: T-1st
- 0.33 ERA: 1st
- 0.86 FIP: 1st
- 1.09 FIP: 1st
- 17.67 K/9: T-1st
- 22.3% SwStr%: 1st
I mean, come on. He was not only the best rookie reliever in the big leagues, or in the National League, but in all of baseball. He too was recently honored by his peers with the Trevor Hoffman NL Reliever of the Year Award at the MLB Players’ Choice Awards.
Add it up and I see a huge opportunity to grab some value here with Williams as the long-shot to win the NL Rookie of the Year.
- Kyle Lewis, Mariners (-300)
- Luis Robert, White Sox (+300)
- Christian Javier (+900)
Lewis: Lewis came out strong in the 2020 season, hitting .455 with a .487 wOBA that ranked fifth in all of baseball across the first week of the regular season. Such a happening put his name at or near the top of this list in a hurry.
The Mariners’ 2016 first-round pick predictably cooled, but led AL Rookies with a 1.7 fWAR mark. He and Robert tied at the top with 11 homers apiece, but Lewis’ bat was far superior on an overall bases as his .262 average, .364 on-base percentile, .801 OPS, .349 wOBA and 126 wRC+ were all superior to that of Robert.
He seems like a real good bet to take down the AL ROY this season.
Robert: Robert showed why he is a future superstar in this league throughout his rookie season as he not only hit 11 homers to tie Lewis at the top of the AL rookie list, but also paced all AL rookies with nine steals.
Like Lewis, Robert came out hot and even posted a .960 OPS through the month of August, but a disastrous September in which he hit .136 with just one homer and zero doubles with a .410 OPS really did him in when it came to this race.
Perhaps Robert has the superior long-term outlook, and he is currently a Gold Glove finalist in center field, but that month of September certainly tipped the scales in this race.
Javier: Javier isn’t going to win this award, but his on-field contributions were far more important for a decimated Astros pitching staff in 2020.
Although his peripherals weren’t great, Javier’s 3.48 regular-season ERA between 10 starts, 12 appearances and 54.1 innings was a big boost to the Astros’ staff. He had some home run issues with a 1.82 HR/9 and his 29% ground-ball rate/52.2% fly-ball rate is about as ugly as it gets, but he was nonetheless with a half-win for the Astros this season, as per FanGraphs, and even turned in some yeoman’s work in the postseason where he worked to a 2.89 ERA in 9.1 innings.
The 23-year-old has an excellent minor-league track record under his belt, so look for Javier to be a significant contributor to the Astros’ pitching staff for years to come.