MLB Starting Nine - 05/08

Major League Baseball is about a month away from taking center stage in the sports world as the NBA and NHL playoffs wind down. Let’s take a look at our starting nine in the 2nd week of May

Starting Nine (Week of May 8th)

#9. Boston Red Sox 21-15 (+2500/+7000) - The Red Sox had their seven-game winning streak snapped on Sunday but their lineup remains one of the most productive in baseball. If Sale is back, they could make some noise. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#8. Minnesota Twins 19-16 (+900/+1900) - The Twins’ struggles to hit on the road need to be fixed if they want to remain atop the AL Central Division. Correa appears to breaking out a bit, which would go a long way towards helping the lineup. Last Week’s Rank: 9th

#7. Pittsburgh Pirates 20-15 (+8,000/+20,000) - The Pirates may have one foot out the door and the other on a banana peel in our Starting Nine after being swept in consecutive series by the Rays and Blue Jays. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#6. Toronto Blue Jays 21-14 (+550/+1100) - The Jays were swept away in four games in Boston before heading to Pittsburgh and sweeping the Pirates. Last Week’s Rank: 6th

#5. Texas Rangers 20-13 (+1200/+2500) - The Rangers may have dodged a bullet with the injury to deGrom appearing to be relatively minor. Their lineup remains one of the best in baseball. Last Week’s Rank: 7th

#4. Atlanta Braves 24-11 (+220/+450) - They remain the odds on favorites to win it all and why not. They have pitching, young stars, and a solid bullpen. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Los Angeles Dodgers 21-14 (+320/+650) - Don’t look now but here come the Dodgers. They have the capital to improve themselves at the trade deadline and will certainly be on the lookout for any big names made available. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#2. Baltimore Orioles 19-9 (+2200/+5,000) - The Orioles keep beating whoever is in front of them. They are surely frustrated after missing out on a chance to win at least two of the games over the Braves this weekend if not all three. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#1. Tampa Bay Rays 28-7 (+320/+700) - The Rays flexed their muscles this week after sweeping NL Central-leading Pittsburgh and taking two of three from the Yankees. Last Week’s Rank: 1

AL/NL MVP Candidates:

Let’s look at the favorites to win the major awards in MLB as April draws to a close.

Top-five AL MVP Candidates

#1. Shohei Ohtani (-105) - He is the clear front-runner in the AL and his odds dipped from +105 to -105 this week. Ohtani has a WAR of 1.04 as a pitcher and a WAR of .8 as a hitter. And, he hasn’t gotten on a hot streak as a hitter yet. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Mike Trout (+800) - Trout is top ten in total bases and home runs and top five in home runs but, like Ohtani, he has yet to hit a hot streak this season. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Wander Franco (+1800) - Franco has surpassed his teammate Arozarena as the best player on the best team. He plays a premium position and already has 20 extra-base hits and eight steals. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#4. Bo Bichette (+5000) - Bichette has led the AL in hits for two years running and appears well on his way again. He’s hitting .329 while leading the league in total bases and hits. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#5. Adley Rutschman (+2000) - Rutschman has a .406 OBP while playing the most demanding position in baseball for an Orioles team with the league’s second-best record. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

Top-five NL MVP Candidates

#1. Ronald Acuna (+230) - The best player on the best team in the National League is playing like the best player so far this season. Acuna looks fully healthy and is showing the power that seemed a bit lacking last year. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Pete Alonso (+800) - Alonso’s odds could start to rise if the Mets continue to stumble. He continues to pace the NL in RBI and is second in home runs. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Fernando Tatis Jr. (+1000) - Tatis Jr. is already third on the Padres in home runs and RBI in half the games. A great player with a chip on his shoulder is a dangerous thing. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#4. Mookie Betts (+1100) - Betts look like an MVP with his willingness to move around the field to help his team. The Dodgers’ move into first place will strengthen Betts’ case once he heats up. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#5. Xander Bogaerts (+3000) - Bogaert's odds remain the same this week as the Padres remain in the middle of the pack in the NL West. Batting fourth behind Tatis Jr., Machado, and Soto could lead to ample opportunities for the Padres’ SS. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

Top-three AL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Gerrit Cole (+300) - Cole is still undefeated but had his toughest start of the season in Tampa yesterday in a no-decision. He still has an ERA of 2.05 and he is tops in the AL in quality starts and second in strikeouts. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Shohei Ohtani (+450) - Ohtani is tops in the AL in strikeouts and fourth in WHIP while maintaining a 4-0 record thus far. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Shane McClanahan (+700) - McClanahan is now 6-0 for the first-place Rays and has six quality starts with an ERA of 2.03. He’s struck out 51 batters on the season with a WHIP of 1.10. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

Top-three NL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Zac Gallen (+250) - Gallen’s scoreless streak came to an end this week but he remains near the top of many categories including wins, innings, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Spencer Strider (+250) - Strider might have the best stuff in baseball and will benefit from a Braves team that is getting healthier. He leads baseball in strikeouts and K/9 ratio and is top ten in WHIP. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Clayton Kershaw (+1400) - Kershaw lost his second game of the season this week but is still near the top of the National League in innings, strikeouts and WHIP. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

*All odds courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

Author Profile
Mark Ruelle

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.