Padres’ Manny Machado slides into first in NL MVP odds race

No Fernando Tatis Jr.? No problem. The San Diego Padres are cruising this season thanks to an MVP-caliber performance from third baseman Manny Machado.

Last Updated: May 26, 2022 10:17 AM ET Read Time: 4 min
Manny Machado San Diego Padres MLB NL MVP
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Baseball bettors are banking big on Manny Machado. The San Diego Padres third baseman has seen his National League MVP odds move from +3,500 on Opening Day to just +225 on May 26 at BetMGM.

He’s presently attracting 26.5% of all handle at the sportsbook, by far the most of any player.

Odds to win NL MVP

Player (Team) Odds
Manny Machado (Padres) +225
Mookie Betts (Dodgers) +600
Nolan Arenado (Cardinals) +600
Bryce Harper (Phillies) +1,000
Juan Soto (Nationals) +1,000
Freddie Freeman (Dodgers) +1,000
Pete Alonso (Mets) +1,100
Ronald Acuna Jr. (Braves) +1,300
Francisco Lindor (Mets) +2,500
Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals) +2,500

Odds courtesy of BetMGM as of May 26, 2022.

Machado’s rocket-like ascent to the top of the odds board has been nothing short of dizzying. Now in his fourth season with the Friars, the five-time All-Star is hitting .361 with eight home runs and 27 RBI and is leading all NL players in batting average, total bases, on-base percentage, OPS, OPS+, and intentional walks. In fact, the only thing he isn’t doing is sweeping the clubhouse after home games.

Machado’s value was especially evident on May 22 against the San Francisco Giants, when he became the first player in MLB history to record three doubles, one triple, three runs, and a base on balls in a single game. It was his 16th multi-hit game of the season, and it raised his slash line to a ridiculous .374/.446/.619.

Here are three reasons why bettors should consider hopping on Machado’s bandwagon before his odds get any shorter:

WAR, what is it good for?

Like it or not, Wins Above Replacement (WAR) has become the go-to stat for evaluating player value over the past decade, and no one in the Senior Circuit has a higher WAR — per Baseball-Reference — this season than Machado. The former first-rounder is tops among all National Leaguers at 3.3, which is 0.6 points higher than St. Louis Cardinals infielder Tommy Edman, who is in second place, and a full point higher than perennial MVP candidates Nolan Arenado and Mookie Betts, who are tied for third.

Machado’s ranking is noteworthy since the NL MVP has finished in the top five in WAR in nine of the last 10 seasons. The one outlier is Bryce Harper, who captured the award in 2021 despite finishing a distant 12th in the category (ninth among position players).

And if you favor FanGraphs WAR over that of Baseball-Reference, not much changes. Machado leads the NL with 3.4 WAR with Mookie Betts next in line at 2.7.

Machado’s defense is still rock solid

You don’t have to be a two-way force to win MVP honors, but it certainly doesn’t hurt. Six of the past 10 NL MVPs have also been Gold Glove winners at some point in their career. That trend bodes well for Machado, who won a pair of Gold Gloves with the Baltimore Orioles and still plays phenomenal defense at the hot corner.

He currently ranks first among all NL third basemen with a 0.989 fielding percentage and is sixth in Defensive Wins Above Replacement at 0.3.

Machado has stepped up in Tatis’ absence

An MVP — in the most literal sense of the term — is a player a team can’t survive without. That’s certainly been the case with Machado, as he’s helped the Padres overcome the enormous loss of All-Star shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. The 20-year-old prodigy entered 2022 with the eighth-shortest odds to win the NL MVP but has yet to step foot on the diamond after fracturing his left wrist in an offseason motorcycle accident.

Most teams would fall apart without their most productive player, but San Diego has raced out to the second-best record in the National League and finds itself just 1.5 games behind the Los Angeles Dodgers in the tightly-packed NL West. The Padres will ultimately need Tatis to make any noise in the playoffs, but in the meantime, his absence has helped bolster Machado’s MVP case significantly.

Manny being Manny

Machado has never finished higher than fourth in MVP voting, but then again, he’s also never looked as locked-in as he does this season. Place a wager on his rapidly dwindling odds now while there’s still value.

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