Last year, the National League MVP was won in runaway fashion by Giancarlo Stanton with his 59 homers. Stanton is not in the National League this year following his trade to the Yankees, opening the door to a new winner. There are several players that could win the MVP, but the value never lies with the favorites. Who should you back in 2018?
Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals: 9/1, +900
Harper always gets compared to Mike Trout, which isn’t good for anyone, but in his own right, Harper is the sensational player he was touted to be when drafted first overall in 2010. The main problem for Harper is staying healthy. He’s played 150+ games just once in his time in the majors and won the MVP that year.
If healthy, he is a threat for 35+ homers, elite on-base skills, and good fielding. All of which is an MVP-threat in any league and any year. The odds bake in some injury worry, but this is a contract year for Harper and if he gets going, those 42 homers in 2015 could look like child’s play.
Kris Bryant, Chicago Cubs: 11/1, +1,100
The 2016 MVP had something of a rough 2017. The power dropped off and his place in the lineup cost him a lot in RBI. Bryant’s strength is great defense and power but if he can’t get up to 35+ homers again, then he can kiss his MVP chances goodbye.
Nolan Arenado, Colorado Rockies: 16/1, +1,600
Arenado is perhaps as complete a player as there is in the National League. He plays terrific defense at a premium position, has averaged 40 homers a season since 2015 and has a .297/.353/.577 slash line in that time.
He gets unfairly discredited due to playing in Colorado, but it’s not like all his power is at Coors Field and he turns into an average bat on the road. He hit just five fewer doubles and one less homer on the road last year. At 26, Arenado is hitting his prime and has slowly been pushing up the MVP race for the last three years. A fourth-place finish last year could well give way to a win in 2018.
Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona Cardinals: 20/1, +2,000
Goldschmidt is a brilliant hitter. The problem is, he plays first base. He has been runner-up in MVP voting twice and third last year, making these odds strangely high, but as I said, he has to have one hell of a year at the plate to make up for the lack of fielding production he can provide.
His on-base skill is remarkable. He averages 107 walks a year since 2015, to go along with 35 doubles, 31 homers, and 24 steals. His ability on the basepaths gives him a massive edge over other first basemen in fantasy, but it also makes him very valuable to the Diamondbacks as well and makes up for some of the defensive shortcomings.
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers & Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals: 25/1, +2,500
Both are three-time Cy Young winners. Kershaw won the 2014 MVP, and while it will take something special for either to win it in 2018, both are capable.
Kershaw’s MVP came with 21 wins and a 1.77 ERA, which is ridiculous. They can both drop their ERA into the 2.30’s with ease though, so it will only take a little luck to send it down even further. They are strikeout masters and legitimately dominate their opposition. The odds are not as long as you would like, making it tough to take either.
The best value is Goldschmidt, and it's not really close. Harper's injury risk and Arenado's home field bias make it tough to back either of them, and Goldschmidt is capable of a 40+ homer, 20+ steal season that will turn heads. If the odds for Kershaw & Scherzer were up in the 50's like Corey Kluber and Chris Sale are in the American League, then I would put some money on them as well, but there just isn't enough return to feel comfortable backing either one.
Get your money on the Diamondbacks first baseman and ride his consistency to victory.