Every year there are award winners that seemingly come out of nowhere. Last year’s NL rookie of the year winner Johnathan India didn’t even have odds listed for him at the start of the season. For this article, I tried to find some long-shot picks for MLB awards all with odds exceeding +2500. All odds are courtesy of Fanduel Sportsbook.
AL MVP: Byron Buxton +5000
A former top prospect, Buxton still can be a five-tool star in the MLB. However, he just needs to stay healthy. Buxton was one of the best players in the MLB for 61 games last year, tallying 19 home runs, leading the league in slugging, and maintaining an OPS over 1.000 while playing elite center field defense. However, the injury bug struck again, and he missed the rest of the season.
I believe that if Buxton could just stay healthy, he could be a top 3 MVP candidate. Unfortunately, Buxton has suffered some collision injuries that most would deem unlucky. But, even if he’s not an iron man, if he can miss 20 or 30 games instead of 100, he will have a chance at the award. Last year Buxton still finished 19th in the American League in WAR despite having missed over 101 games. If he can endure an entire season, he will prove himself to be one of the most valuable players in MLB.
Add in the fact that the Twins added one of the best free agents on the market in Carlos Correa, and it looks like the Twins are building to compete in a weak AL central. +5000 odds is an excellent price on Buxton as a $10 bet would pay out $500, and I feel he is just some injury luck away from being a top 3 candidate.
A healthy Byron Buxton will be such a problem for the rest of the league pic.twitter.com/EYKIJQd9YM
— Talkin’ Baseball (@TalkinBaseball_) March 26, 2022
AL Cy Young: Shane McClanahan +3000
Nobody does more with their pitchers than the Tampa Bay Rays. They have turned good pitchers like Blake Snell and David Price into Cy Young Award winners and have even turned some pretty awful pitchers like Chris Archer and Matt Moore into top 10 Cy Young candidates.
Bring forth Shane McClanahan, a highly regarded left-handed pitching prospect who was solid for the Rays a year ago. McClanahan flashed some stuff last year, going 10-6 with a 3.43 ERA and accumulating 141 strikeouts in 123.1 innings pitched. McClanahan has been pegged as the Rays’ opening day starter. He has a fastball that can reach 100 mph and a wicked curveball. If anyone can get this bright young pitcher from pretty good to Cy Young, it’s the Tampa Bay Rays. A $10 bet would pay out $300.
this heater from Shane McClanahan… pic.twitter.com/0NlkbCEG3t
— Alex Fast (@AlexFast8) April 29, 2021
AL Rookie of the Year: Shane Baz +2000
Sticking with our Rays pitching theme leads us to Shane Baz as our sleeper rookie of the year candidate in the American League. The Rays’ #1 prospect, Baz debuted in September and started a playoff game for Tampa a month later (it didn’t go very well).
The number 8 prospect in baseball dominated across three levels of minor league baseball last year before making 3 September starts for the Rays. He went 2-0 with a 2.03 ERA, striking out 18 in 13 innings. Betting on Baz is betting on the Rays’ pitching staff to do what it has always done, but they haven’t always had a pitcher as talented as Baz. Baz suffered a minor injury hiccup, but he will join the Rays and shine down the stretch leading him to the rookie of the year. A $10 bet would pay $200.
First inning of his career, 2 strikeouts.
Shane Baz is looking nasty. pic.twitter.com/iCpmmovVOn
— MLB (@MLB) September 20, 2021
NL MVP: Kebryan Hayes +18000
Hayes came up to the big leagues in late 2020 and burst onto the scene by posting a .376 batting average and 1.124 OPS in 24 games. He opened his 2021 season with an opening day home run but suffered an injury in the second game of the season that held him out for months. Hayes struggled with the bat upon his return, but showed some base-stealing ability and had some play-of-the-year candidates showing his range and arm strength at third base.
Hayes has the potential to be a platinum glove corner infielder, and with an entirely healthy season, I think he could start hitting the way he did at the end of 2020. A $10 bet pays out $1,800.
— MLB (@MLB) June 27, 2021
NL Cy Young: Max Fried +2500
I guess it’s due to his lower strikeout rate, but Max Fried is 10th in Cy Young odds for the National League despite being a top 5 pitcher in the league. A gold glove and silver slugger recipient, Fried has gone 21-7 the last two seasons with a 2.84 ERA, including a top 5 Cy Young finish.
Pitching to contact means Fried can stay in games longer, and he led the Majors in complete-game shutouts last year with 2. Durability and prolonged starts will be Fried’s main selling point going into his age 28 season. If he can go deep into games and rack up shutouts, he could become a dark horse for this award. A $10 bet pays out $250.
Max Fried, 98mph ⛽️ pic.twitter.com/HK2jL90vMr
— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) November 3, 2021
NL Rookie of the Year: Nick Lodolo +5000
After unloading a good chunk of last year’s core, the Reds are in full rebuild mode, which means opportunities could arise for some young players. One of those young players is Nick Lodolo, who primarily played in AA last year. Pairing an impressive spring training with the departures of Sonny Gray and Wade Miley has given Lodolo a chance to make the opening day rotation.
Lodolo posted 68 strikeouts and a 1.84 ERA in 44 innings in double-A and has looked good in spring training. Talent and opportunity give us good value on this former #7 overall pick. A $10 bet pays out $500.
Nick Lodolo is good pic.twitter.com/b3aUNk1qOP
— ATBBTTR (@ATBBTTR) March 18, 2022