Starting Nine (Week of June 19th)

Summer is finally here and the division races are heating up. We have some new entrants in this week’s Starting Nine and some teams that have slipped out of the starting lineup. Here’s our Starting Nine for this week.

Starting Nine (Week of June 19th)

#9. Los Angeles Dodgers 39-33 (+300/+600) - The Dodgers have not been able to regain first place after being overtaken by the D-Backs. They are now in third place after a sweep at the hands of the Giants and are clinging to the 9th spot in our starting nine. Last Week’s Rank: 7th

#8. San Francisco Giants 39-32 (+1500/+3200) - After failing to get their two offseason free agent prizes, first Aaron Judge and then SS Carlos Correa, the Giants got off to a slow start. After sweeping the Dodgers in LA over the weekend, they have won seven straight and stormed into second place in the NL West. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#7. Miami 41-31 (+2000/+4500) - The Miami Marlins have quietly moved into second place in the NL East and are off to the second-best start in team history. The team has continued to play well even while missing dynamic outfielder Jazz Chisholm Jr. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#6. LA Angels 41-33 (+1200/+3000) - Could this final be the year that the Angels make the playoffs with two of the game’s best five players? While Trout has struggled, Ohtani is playing like the AL MVP in what could be his final year with the Angels. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#5. Arizona Diamondbacks 40-25 (+1200/+3000) - The D-Backs stumbled a bit this week, losing three of four to the red-hot Phillies. They are still in first place in the NL West by five games. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#4. Baltimore Orioles 44-27 (+1600/+4000) - The Birds are still hanging around and still haven’t shown any signs of going away. Will they be active at the trade deadline? Last Week’s Rank: 5th

#3. Texas Rangers 44-27 (+650/+1400) - The Rangers took two of three from Toronto over the weekend but it was a bit concerning that Jon Gray got knocked around on Sunday. This team will need more pitching depth to complement the offense. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#2. Atlanta Braves 46-26 (+180/+380) - Few teams could keep up the level of play that the Braves have while losing their top two pitchers for what has been an extended period of time. Then again, few teams have the firepower that the Braves have in their lineup. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#1. Tampa Bay Rays 51-24 (+240/+500) - Tampa Bay has gone just 5-5 in the last ten games after a tougher-than-expected west coast trip through Oakland and San Diego. They still pace the baseball. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

AL/NL MVP Candidates:

Let’s look at the favorites to win the major awards in MLB as we sit halfway through the Month of May.

Top-five AL MVP Candidates

#1. Shohei Ohtani (-425) - Ohtani has taken a firm hold as the favorite in the MVP race and is threatening to run away with the award as he hits close to .300 and now leads baseball in home runs. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#2. Aaron Judge (+1700) - The injection in his foot this week will hopefully get Judge back sooner than later. He’ll need to heat up upon his return with the pace Ohtani has been setting the past two weeks. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#3. Corey Seager (+3000) - Seager jumps into our Top Five thanks to the injury to Alvarez and to his torrid pace at the plate since returning from injury. If he can finally stay relatively healthy for the season, he is capable of putting up monster numbers. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#4. Wander Franco (+3000) - You certainly can do worse than take a flier on Franco to win the MVP this season. His team has been outstanding all season and Franco is in the middle of it all. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#5. Bo Bichette (+5000) - The Jays’ inconsistencies as a team hurt Bichette’s odds more than his play on the field. They were hot last week and he was +3000. They cooled this week and he rose to +5000. He’s still having an impressive season for a team that should be playoff bound. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

Top-five NL MVP Candidates

#1. Ronald Acuna Jr. (-140) - Like Ohtani in the AL, Acuna is pushing to run away with this award before the all-star break. His stolen base numbers are incredible and he is the firestarter for the Braves’ dynamic offense. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Freddie Freeman (+500) - Freeman holds onto the #2 spot despite the Dodgers’ tough weekend. He has the pedigree and track record to stay in the race and the Dodgers will improve. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Luis Arreaz (+3000) - His average is ‘down’ to .388 but its hard not to consider Arreaz anything but a rousing success since moving to the NL and because of the rules changes in baseball. As long as he threatens to have the best batting average since the 1990s, he’ll be in the conversation for MVP. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#4. Corbin Carroll (+1200) - Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki may have to move over in terms of being the only two players who have won both the MVP and ROY in the same season. Carroll will run away with the ROY award at this pace and, should Acuna fall off at all, he’ll be heavily in the MVP conversation as well. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#5. Fernando Tatis Jr. (+2700) - Mookie Betts has better odds but every time I watch Tatis Jr. play, I find myself pushing him up the ranks of the best players in baseball. He can hit, hit for power, has speed and his defense in right field is perhaps second only to Mookie Betts. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

Top-three AL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Shane McClanahan (+250) - He’s 11-1, pitching for the best team in baseball, and is in the top ten in every major pitching category thus far. Oh, and he is the odds-on favorite to start the all-star game again. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Framber Valdez (+450) - 10 or 15 years ago, Valdez wouldn’t even be in the conversation for Cy Young because he is only 6-5. Times have changed, however, and there are many more metrics that rank him at the top of the heap. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Nathan Eovaldi (+1500) - Eovaldi has been the ace that the Rangers pegged Jacob deGrom to be before he got hurt. He is top ten in ERA, complete games, WHIP, wins, and WAR. If his arm holds up, he’ll have a strong case. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

Top-three NL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Marcus Stroman (+1500) - Statistically, Stroman has been superior to Gallen for the better part of the last two months. He may need a signature game to firmly establish himself as the front-runner. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Zac Gallen (+170) - If there was a separate Cy Young given just to pitchers pitching at home, Gallen would win in a landslide. He will need to get tougher on the road in order to regain the top spot. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Zac Wheeler (+700) - Wheeler slips into our Top Three for the first time this season. He is amongst the NL leaders in innings, strikeouts, K/9, and WHIP and now has a hot Phillies team around him. I like his staying power over the older Kershaw as well. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

*All odds courtesy of

By Mark Ruelle

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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.