Yesterday, over at the blog at Sports Insights, they posted the 2016 MLB MVP odds. I am giddy about the start of the MLB season and looking at the MVP odds got me excited about who I would take. Before I just pick a couple of names off the list, I wanted to do some research before I made my picks.
The first thing I looked at were the last 20 complete seasons in the wildcard era. I looked at the team that the MVP winner was on and how many wins they had during their MVP season and whether or not the team made the playoffs. Here is that data:
|2015||Josh Donaldson||93||Yes||Bryce Harper||83||No|
|2014||Mike Trout||98||Yes||Clayton Kershaw||94||Yes|
|2013||Miguel Cabrera||93||Yes||Andrew McCutchen||94||Yes|
|2012||Miguel Cabrera||88||Yes||Buster Posey||94||Yes|
|2011||Justin Verlander||95||Yes||Ryan Braun||96||Yes|
|2010||Josh Hamilton||90||Yes||Joey Votto||91||Yes|
|2009||Joe Mauer||87||Yes||Albert Pujols||91||Yes|
|2008||Dustin Pedroia||95||Yes||Albert Pujols||86||No|
|2007||Alex Rodriguez||94||Yes||Jimmy Rollins||89||Yes|
|2006||Justin Morneau||96||Yes||Ryan Howard||85||No|
|2005||Alex Rodriguez||95||Yes||Albert Pujols||100||Yes|
|2004||Vladimir Guerrero||92||Yes||Barry Bonds||91||No|
|2003||Alex Rodriguez||71||No||Barry Bonds||100||Yes|
|2002||Miguel Tejada||103||Yes||Barry Bonds||95||Yes|
|2001||Ichiro Suzuki||116||Yes||Barry Bonds||93||Yes|
|2000||Jason Giambi||91||Yes||Jeff Kent||97||Yes|
|1999||Ivan Rodriguez||95||Yes||Chipper Jones||103||Yes|
|1998||Juan Gonzalez||88||Yes||Sammy Sosa||90||Yes|
|1997||Ken Griffey Jr.||90||Yes||Larry Walker||83||No|
|1996||Juan Gonzalez||90||Yes||Ken Caminiti||91||Yes|
The average number of wins by the team of the eventual MVP winner is around 93. Of the 40 MVP winners listed, 85% of them were on teams that made it to the playoffs. In the American League, only Alex Rodriguez in 2003 won the MVP on a team that didn’t make it to the postseason. In fact, let’s take a look at the six MVP winners whose teams didn’t advance to the playoffs to see if we can spot a trend:
So if you are going to pick a player that doesn’t make the playoffs, you better hope they have an all-time season. Otherwise, it looks like the voters tend to value helping your team into the playoffs. So to improve your odds of picking the MVP, let’s limit the teams that are expected to have good seasons. By only looking at teams with a win total over/under of 85 or more, we are left with 12 teams remaining. Paul Goldschmidt, Joey Votto, and Robinson Cano are all great players but their teams will have to greatly exceed expectations to put them in the MVP conversation at the end of the season.
Let’s start in the American League. You may be surprised to learn that there are only five teams in the AL with a win total of 85 or more: Astros, Red Sox, Blue Jays, Yankees, and Indians. Now just because the Angels aren’t projected to do well as a team doesn’t mean that Mike Trout doesn’t have a chance to win the MVP. He’s the favorite to win and he definitely should be. But if another player on a playoff team has a similar season, the vote historically has swung his way.
My Pick: Carlos Correa +3300
The Astros currently have the highest win total of any team in the league and although he is young, Correa is already the best player on that team. Carlos also has the benefit of playing shortstop. In recent years, voters have seemed to put more and more emphasis into defense (and also baserunning) which could help in the final vote.
In the National League, there are seven teams with a win total of 85 or more: Cubs, Dodgers, Mets, Giants, Nationals, Cardinals, and Pirates. The Cubs seem to be everyone’s pick this season and almost all of their props and win totals are going to be inflated. Most of the Mets’ best players are starting pitchers and although Verlander and Kershaw have won in recent years, a positional player is still the best bet.
My Pick: Yasiel Puig +4000
The Dodgers had some roster turnover during the offseason including losing Zack Greinke to the Diamondbacks. While he won’t easily be replaced, Los Angeles is still in a great position to get to the postseason as Andrew Friedman has built the team with depth at almost every position. Puig is a polarizing player as most fans either love him or hate him but he still has all the tools to be one of the best players in the game.
Correa and Puig are both in the top 16 in projected WAR by Steamer and are on teams that are projected to do well this season. There are a lot of things that can happen during a 162-game season but I like both of these value picks to come through in September.