Bryce Harper is full speed ahead for 2021 given his performance this spring.
It’s easy not to put too much stock in Grapefruit League games but a .343 batting average with 4 home runs in 35 at-bats is certainly a good sign and trends in the right direction.
For the Phillies to make the postseason, they will need Harper to be at least close to his MVP caliber form. He won the National League honors in 2015 and finished 12th in voting in 2017.
If the spring gives any indication then Harper’s odds to win NL MVP this season are a nice price to jump on at +1600 ($10 bet to win $160).
However, Harper has plenty of competition according to NBC Sports betting partner PointsBet. There are 10 players listed in front of him, including the Dodgers’ Mookie Betts and Nationals’ Juan Soto who are co-favorites at +750. The Braves’ Freddie Freeman won the award last season and currently has odds at +1100. The last player to repeat as MVP in the NL was Albert Pujols with the Cardinals in 2008 and 2009.
By the way, catcher J.T. Realmuto is three spots behind Harper with odds of +3000 ($10 bet to win $300). The last time a catcher took home the NL award occurred when the Reds’ Johnny Bench won the second of his two MVP’s in 1972. So safe to say Realmuto has his work cut out for him.
Back to Harper. He holds odds of +1800 ($10 bet to win $180) to have the most regular-season home runs in all of baseball. He accomplished that feat back in 2015 during his MVP campaign. The Mets’ Pete Alonso and some guy named Mike Trout for the Angels are listed as co-favorites at +1000.
As for the most RBI this season, Harper has the 5th best odds at +1400 ($10 bet to win $140). Soto is the favorite at +750 followed by the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger at +900, and the Braves’ Marcell Ozuna and Trout at +1100.
From the offense to the pitching, Aaron Nola is making his 4th straight opening day start. He’s the first Phillies pitcher to do that since Hall of Famer Steve Carlton pitched in 14 of 15 openers in the 1970s and 1980s.
Nola enters the season with the 6th best odds at +1200 ($10 bet to win $120) to be named the NL Cy Young award winner, while he’s listed 8th on the board for most strikeouts in MLB at +2000 ($10 bet to win $200). In the 2020 shortened season, Nola finished 3rd in K’s with 96 finishing only 8 behind leader Jacob deGrom of the Mets. deGrom also happens to be the NL Cy Young front runner at +400.
Well, let the games begin... even if the temperatures feel more like winter with opening day temperatures expected to feel like the mid-30’s.
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