Why Cardinals Star Nolan Arenado Might Fit NL MVP Mold

Written By Staff on April 26, 2022
nl mvp odds

NL MVP odds are already shifting before the calendar turns to May. The Baseball’s Writers Association of America (BWAA) has awarded American League and National League MVP honors since 1931. Voters today consider more advanced metrics like On Base Plus Slugging Percentage (OPS) and Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

WAR measures how many more wins a player is worth than a replacement-level player at his same position. Recent NL MVP winners have ranked at or near the top of both overall WAR and offensive WAR.

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Analytics & Its Role in the NL MVP Race

Today, MLB MVP voters are taking a far more analytical approach. In every season from 2008-2020, excluding 2014 when pitcher Clayton Kershaw won MVP, every single NL MVP Award winner was ranked either first or second in offensive WAR. From 2015 to 2020, every NL MVP also been ranked first in overall WAR.

In 2021, NL MVP Bryce Harper produced an outlier result, finishing fourth in FanGraphs and ESPN offensive WAR among NL hitters. The injury to leader Fernando Tatis Jr. opened the door for voters to choose another winner, and they went with Harper over Juan Soto on the last place Nationals.

2022 NL MVP Candidates to Consider

Nolan Arenado ()

Arenado is in his second season with the Cardinals after leaving his beloved Rockies for a fresh start in St. Louis.

Many analysts speculated that his best days may have been behind him after leaving hitter-friendly Coors Field. Fortunately for the Cardinals, that has not been the case.

Through the first two weeks of the regular season, he was already batting better than .390, with five home runs and 14 RBI. Analytically, he posted an overall WAR of 1.5 in the early going, second in the National League. His offensive WAR of 1.3 is tied for the MLB lead.

In the admittedly small sample size, Arenado is also crushing OPS (1.153).

Manny Machado ()

Behind Arenado, Machado is another hot bat to consider for NL MVP. Machado has some impressive efficiency metrics, including ranking first in overall WAR at 1.6. Machado also ranks third in the NL in offensive WAR. With the return of Fernando Tatis Jr. expected in a couple months, Machado has a headstart on his teammate and former NL MVP candidate.

Juan Soto ()

Despite the fact that Juan Soto has not performed up to the level we know he is capable of thus far in 2022, it would be unwise to already eliminate the 2021 NL MVP runner-up at this stage.

The 23-year-old slugger is already considered by most to be one of the best overall hitters in all of Major League Baseball. Soto can do it all behind the plate, and has been able to do so with great efficiency.

In spite of Juan being ranked inside the top ten in both WAR and offensive WAR , it barely scratches the surface of how dynamic of a player he is. Soto is a career .300 hitter, with the potential to hit 40+ home runs and 100+ RBIs in any season. Although Soto has been in a slump to start the season, don’t be surprised if he starts to heat up behind the plate and become one of the final contenders for the NL MVP like he did last year, despite playing for a bad team.

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