If the latest odds are any indication, the Chicago Cubs could have their second National League MVP winner in three years.
Per OddsShark, Cubs star Javier Baez is the leading candidate to win 2018 NL MVP at -110 (bet $11 for $10 return). St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Matt Carpenter and Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (+250, bet $10 for $25 return) are tied for second:
Betts and Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels are tied for the MLB lead with 9.2 FanGraphs wins above replacement. Trout holds a significant edge in on-base percentage (.466 to .431) and a slight edge in slugging percentage (.629 to .619).
Betts leads MLB with a .337 batting average and ranks third in the AL with 20 defensive runs saved. He is putting up these numbers for a Red Sox team that owns MLB's best record (103-48) and can clinch the American League East with a win over the New York Yankees on Wednesday.
The Cubs own the NL's best record at 89-62 and are closing in on their third straight division title thanks in no small part to Baez's breakout year.
An All-Star for the first time in 2018, Baez has done a lot of heavy lifting for Chicago with Kris Bryant having two different stints on the disabled list and Anthony Rizzo having a down year by his standards. The 25-year-old leads the NL with 107 RBI and a .571 slugging percentage. His 33 homers are tied for fourth.
Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich is rising in the MVP rankings. He's currently fifth in the odds at +600 and is building a strong case to win the award.
Yelich leads all NL position players with 6.0 FanGraphs wins above replacement, a .317 batting average and .952 OPS. The California native has a .353/.414/.724 slash line in 54 games since the All-Star break, helping the Brewers carry a two-game lead for the top wild-card spot in the NL.
Not listed among the top candidates, New York Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom leads all NL players with 8.0 FanGraphs wins above replacement. Despite leading the league with a 1.78 ERA and having 251 strikeouts in 202 innings, he could be relegated solely to Cy Young consideration because the Mets are currently 11 games under .500.
With less than two weeks remaining in MLB's regular season, the race for the NL MVP award will likely come down to which player has the strongest finish.