The Miami Marlins have had the benefit of hanging around this season near a competitive level. The Fish have remained close to .500 and in the far outskirts of the playoff race, and that has certain advantages beyond just keeping the Fish focused until the end of the season. It has kept Giancarlo Stanton in the limelight and might give him a shot at something pretty cool: the National League MVP award!
These are the most recent odds received from the sportsbook Bovada.
Odds to Win the 2014 NL MVP
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 4/7
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) 7/4
Yasiel Puig (LAD)
The odds have drastically changed thanks to a few unfortunate developments. Andrew McCutchen of the Pittsburgh Pirates would probably be up here on this list, but his fractured rib injury has brought up major question marks for his next few weeks of the season. McCutchen and Stanton were pretty even in terms of production this year, but even with the Pirates holding out hope by not placing McCutchen on the 15-day DL, it is very likely he will miss a few weeks to heal up and be well behind the eight-ball. Troy Tulowitzki still leads National League position players in WAR, but he has been injured for a few weeks and just took batting practice after recovering from a thigh injury. In addition, Tulowitzki plays for the last-place Rockies, making his case for the MVP tenuous according to the silly unwritten "winning team" requirement of the MVP.
No one else on the pitcher's side has an argument for the MVP crown over Clayton Kershaw, who has been ridiculous all season long and has vaulted into the lead despite missing a good chunk of the first part of the year. Meanwhile, Yasiel Puig is the only hitter on the other side who has a good enough batting line to compete with Stanton while still posting good WAR totals. Carlos Gomez falls a good deal shy of both players despite strong defense, while Jason Heyward's case is all based on Gold Glove defense, which is harder to recognize in the MVP race. That means it is indeed a three-team race to the finish provided the injured players miss significant time.
Stanton's odds are second at 7/4. That means a bet of seven dollars will earn a winning player his seven bucks back and an additional four dollars. That puts Stanton's expected chances of winning at 36.3 percent. That is a nice number to have, and at this point it seems much higher than Puig's chances, which does not make sense. Puig's odds sit at around nine percent at 10-to-1 odds. Meanwhile, Kershaw has the lead with a 4/7 line, meaning that he has a predicted 57.1 percent. Numbers don't quite lineup like they should (this adds up to 102 percent and change), but the odds may be rounded here for ease of writing. Either way, Kershaw stands at around a 1.6-to-1 favorite over Stanton to win the MVP.
Stanton may need an absolute tear in August and September to match up. He does have the hitting numbers that everyone likes; he leads the National League in home runs and RBIs, and is 17th among qualified players in batting average. Miami is hanging around in the race, but eventually they should fall to the wayside, meaning Stanton will need an extraordinary effort to be considered over a pitcher who may post an ERA below 2.00. Both Kershaw and Puig stand to make the playoffs with the Dodgers, so that is a huge blow to Stanton's chances.
Right now, I think Stanton's odds are listed a bit high. My money would actually be on Puig, who is a good payout and probably a better candidate down the line to take the position player crown if it comes down to it. Puig actually has a better batting line than Stanton right now, and being on a playoff team may push his candidacy. Voters have a lot of hesitancy over putting a pitcher in as MVP because of their perceived lack of playing time compared to position players, and Kershaw's missed time may be his undoing. If I had four dollars today, I might take the potential $44 payout from Puig over the $11 payout from Stanton.
But don't count out #MONSTERDONG from putting away this race with 18 home runs the next two months and a fantastic finish to 2014. I would love to see him raise a trophy in one of our more surprising decent seasons.