Early MLB Most Valuable Player Candidates
The MLB offseason used to be one of the most dramatic and anticipated offseasons on the calendar. Baseball has lost some of its luster in recent seasons despite a plethora of young superstars that are going to be clubbing long balls for the next ten-plus seasons. Here are some early MVP candidates that could be worthy of a high-value futures wager.
National League: Nolan Arenado, Third Baseman, St. Louis Cardinals
At some point, Arenado is going to break through as an MVP. The 31-year-old third baseman is arguably one of the most well-rounded players in the major leagues and has been for a long time.
Much of Arenado’s early career success was figured to be due to the fact that he played in “hitter-friendly” Coors Field. However, since arriving in St. Louis, Arenado has maintained his level of awesomeness. The ten-time gold glove award winner suffered a “down year” in 2021 with 34 home runs and 105 RBI but only hit .255 with an on-base percentage of .312. His OPS was the third lowest of his career at .807, and many prognosticators felt vindicated for having doubted his Colorado-born credentials.
However, the seven-time All-Star rebounded in 2022 with an .892 OPS and just 72 strikeouts in 620 at bats. He once again topped 30 home runs (30) and 100 RBI (102) but also hit for a .298 average and registered an on-base percentage of .358. He finished third in the Most Valuable Player voting while once again being named an All-Star, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove recipient.
He will obviously face a season-long race, with his own teammate Paul Goldschmidt no less, but at some point, it is likely that Arenado will be recognized for being one the most well-rounded players the game has seen in the last 25 years.
American League: Jose Ramirez, Third Baseman, Cleveland Guardians
Is this a long shot? Sure. Are you going to make any money betting on Aaron Judge? Probably not. Will it be satisfying for you to take that selfie at the end of the season with this ticket, for that payout if he wins the award? Yes.
Ramirez has now finished in the top six of the Most Valuable Player voting five times in the last six seasons. He just notched a season in which he knocked in 126 runs while swiping 20 bags in 27 attempts and accumulated 309 bases. He was an All-Star and a Silver Slugger award winner. His slugging percentage has decreased each of the last two seasons, but he is still only 30 years old. As talent accumulates around him, his opportunities to put up numbers become better.
He does all of this while playing in one of the most unfriendly hitters parks in the Major Leagues, while Aaron Judge is able to hit routine pop fly balls twelve rows into the stands. At some point, people need to recognize the talent it takes for Ramirez to do what he is doing in Cleveland.
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