MLB Futures: 7 bold National League predictions & awards picks
Chris Sheridan gives his best MLB National League futures bets, including picks to win NL East, NL Central, NL West, NL ROY, MVP, and Cy Young Award.
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2023 MLB National League Cy Young Award Odds Analysis & Predictions: Sandy Alcantara and Corbin Burnes Current Favorites to win this season
By many standards, Justin Verlander is an old man. He turned 40 in February, and as anyone 39 or younger will tell you, he is somewhere between “geezer” and “dinosaur.”
The thing is, the right-hander can still bring the heat and still has amazing accuracy. He now has a chance to win a fourth Cy Young Award, which would be his first in the National League.
New York Mets owner Steve Cohen went on a spending spree this off-season that not only included installing the largest video screen in the major leagues beyond center field at Citi Field. Cohen went out and plucked away the ace of the Houston Astros’ pitching staff, and his Mets now have arguably the National League’s best 1-2 starting-pitcher punch in Verlander and two-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer -- although Verlander is beginning the season on the injured list.
As the 2023 MLB season begins with some major rules changes, Verlander is on the board at +1400 and Scherzer at +700 to win the NL Cy Young Award. Sandy Alcantara of the Miami Marlins is favored at +500 after winning the award last season, and Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers is the second choice at +600. Spencer Strider of the Atlanta Braves is the only other NL pitcher with odds lower than +1000. The mustachioed right-hander, who got manhandled by the Phillies in the playoffs last season, is +950.
Members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, who vote on postseason Major League Baseball awards, put a premium on a few things: won-loss record, the ratio of strikeouts to walks, earned run average, and a team’s fortunes when it comes to making or missing the postseason.
Baseball’s expanded playoffs taught us last year that a dominant regular season is no guarantee of postseason success. The Los Angeles Dodgers led the majors with 111 victories but were knocked out 3-1 by the San Diego Padres in the first round of the postseason. The Philadelphia Phillies finished third in the NL East at 87-75 yet made it to the World Series, only to lose to the Houston Astros, who added a Cy Young candidate of their own by signing Jacob DeGrom away from the Mets to replace Verlander. More on that in our American League Preview.
Best Picks to win NL Cy Young Award
In terms of the NL pitching picture, three-time Cy Young Award winner Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is coming off a 12-2 season and is second on the team’s pitching depth chart behind Mexican left-hander Julio Urias. Since wins and losses in the regular season matter to voters, we cannot advise against making flyer wagers on both Los Angeles pitchers, as Betway has Kershaw at +5000 and Urias at +1500. In futures wagering, sometimes you look for those types of value wagers at the start of the season before somebody throws a no-hitter or strikes out 18 batters to make the odds shift monumentally.
And speaking of shifts, baseball’s new rules prevent infielders from overloading on one side of the field or setting up on the outfield grass, which is going to lead to more hits, more runs, and higher batting averages.
Pick 1: National League Cy Young Award Winner: Julio Urias +1500
Pick 2: National League Cy Young Award Winner: Clayton Kershaw +5000
2023 MLB National League MVP Odds & Predictions: Juan Soto and Mookie Betts Current Favorites to win this season
The new-rules factor is something to consider when handicapping the NL Most Valuable Player Award, because it is a pretty decent bet that somebody is going to end the season with an average higher than the .326 that Jeff McNeil of the Mets posted to lead the NL last year, when only three players batted .300 or better.
St. Louis first baseman Paul Goldschmidt got the award last season after batting .317 with 35 homers and 115 RBIs, and he is the +1500 seventh choice at Betway as he seeks to become the NL’s first repeat MVP since Albert Pujols in 2008 and 2009. The favorite is San Diego’s Juan Soto, whose change of teams has many prognosticators picking the Padres to win the World Series (they are the +950 third choice at Betway).
Soto was sixth in the majors in on-base percentage. He slugged .452 when the league average slugging percentage was .395. He led the majors in walks with 135 and he only struck out 96 times in 664 plate appearances, making him one of the 20 toughest hitters in the league to punch out. He hit 27 home runs. He was an All-Star and won a Silver Slugger.
At +550, he is not quite as strong a favorite as the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, who is +190 to win the award in the American League. Right behind him is Phillies shortstop Trea Turner, who many consider the fastest player in the major leagues.
The Pick: National League MVP Winner: Juan Soto +500
2023 MLB National League Rookie of the Year Odds & Predictions: Corbin Carroll and Jordan Walker Current Favorites to win this season
The toughest part of the National League betting preview is the NL Rookie of the Year for the usual deer-in-the-headlights reasons. These guys are known to those who follow minor-league baseball or Latin American baseball, but in many cases, all the rest of us have to go off of is what they did in spring training.
Jordan Walker of the St. Louis Cardinals is the +360 favorite after having hit .310 in two minor league seasons, but one guy to keep an eye on is Mets Japanese import Kodai Senga, whose signature pitch is the “ghost fork.” He is on the board at +950. He would become the fourth Japanese player to win ROY, joining Kazohiro Sazaki and Ichiro Suzuki of the Seattle Mariners, who won in 2000 and 2001, and Ohtani, who won in 2018.
The Pick: National League ROY Winner: Kodai Senga +600
2023 Odds to win the National League Divisions: Predictions & Picks
The NL East odds, NL Central odds, and NL West odds are tilted heavily toward the favorites, but we like the Mets over the Braves and the Brewers over the Cardinals. As far as the odds to win the National League, we advocate going with the Mets. They are not as overdue as the Cubs once were, but they are close. However, we also advocate going with your gut, because wagering is part of the fun of enjoying sports.
MLB futures odds would not be complete without divisional predictions, and these are the teams we like:
NL East Division Winner: New York Mets +150
NL Central Division Winner: Milwaukee Brewers: +150
NL West Division Winner: Los Angeles Dodgers: -134
National League Winner: New York Mets +375
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