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NL MVP race: How MLB season so far has impacted odds

We discuss the NL MVP race after the first two months of the 2023 regular season.

Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves hits a double in the top of the fifth inning against the Oakland Athletics at RingCentral Coliseum on May 31, 2023 in Oakland, California. Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

Hard as it is to believe, we’re now two full months through the 2023 MLB season. The sample size is a bit bigger now, meaning we can say with a bit more confidence which breakouts are for real and which slow starts may not be much of a fluke after all. The landscape in the National League has shifted quite a bit over the past few weeks — Freddie Freeman is in the midst of an all-time heater, Juan Soto isn’t too far behind him and Bryce Harper has made his return to the Philadelphia Phillies’ lineup, to name just three — and the awards race markets have responded accordingly.

So, just like we did at the beginning of May, let’s celebrate the start of June with a look at how the past month has impacted the NL MVP odds over at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Updated NL MVP odds as of June 2

Ronald Acuna Jr. +100 Freddie Freeman +600 Pete Alonso +1200
Juan Soto +1600 Paul Goldschmidt +2000 Mookie Betts +2000
Bryce Harper +2000 Fernando Tatis Jr. +2500 Sean Murphy +3000
Matt Olson +3500 Max Muncy +3500 Manny Machado +4500

Seriously, I don’t think people realized just how insane Freeman’s May was: the former MVP hit .400/.462/.722 for the entire month, with six homers, 17 doubles (!!!) and 26 RBI — plus four steals, because why not. It’s rocketed him all the way up to the second shortest odds here, as Tatis Jr. hasn’t taken off just yet and many of the preseason candidates (Machado, Trea Turner, Nolan Arenado) are scuffling a bit. In general, this list is heavy on sluggers — Alonso and his league-leading 20 dingers, Olson, Muncy — and light on the kind of all-around world-beaters we’re used to seeing take home MVP awards. (Even Betts, while great as always, has stolen just two bases so far this year.) It sure feels like this is Acuna’s to lose as he makes a real run at a 30/40 season.

NL MVP race: Takeaways and best bets

Juan Soto, San Diego Padres

Of course, Acuna also has a bit of an injury history, and if the Braves star does go down, Soto feels like the best bet to emerge from the rest of the pack. A couple of stats:

The superstar has found his power stroke again, and he’s even running a bit, with six steals on the year. We know what kind of potential Soto has when he’s at his best, and it’s a ceiling that none of the other contenders can really match. If he goes, say, 30/20 while leading the Padres back into postseason contention, that’ll be tough to beat in a world where Acuna slips for whatever reason — and makes him great value at +1600.

Freddie Freeman, Los Angeles Dodgers

Soto had plenty of ground to make up, though, meaning that this is still largely a two-person race — so why not ride with the one of those two with the better odds? For all of Acuna’s baserunning exploits, Freeman leads the league in OPS right now, and even if Acuna stays healthy there’s a world in which he cools off a bit and Freeman takes home the hardware. I wanted to make a case for a longer shot here, but Goldschmidt just won, Harper will likely be held back a bit as the Phils try to keep him healthy, Alonso has batting average concerns (and no speed) and Tatis Jr. hasn’t quite put it all together yet after a long layoff. Freeman is the right combination of strong likelihood and still a little bit of juice at +600.