Starting Nine (Week of May 22nd)

Memorial Day is fast approaching and the boys of summer will, in fact, be in the heat of the summer soon. Let’s take a look at where things stand as spring nears an end.

Starting Nine (Week of May 22nd)

#9. Minnesota Twins 25-22 (+850/+1900) - The Twins hang onto the 9th spot in our Starting Nine but the Diamondbacks are coming on fast. The Twins mediocre play hasn’t hurt them thanks to playing in one of the worst divisions in baseball. Last Week’s Rank: 8th

#8. Milwaukee 25-21 (+950/+2200) - The Brewers are still on top in the NL Central despite a poor week. Don’t look now, however, but here come the Cardinals. Will it be deja vu all over again for the Brewers in 2023? Last Week’s Rank: 9th

#7. Houston Astros 27-19 (+350/+700) - Things are starting to come together for the champs. They completed a sweep of Oakland over the weekend, have improved at home, and now have Altuve back at the top of the order. Texas, beware. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#6. New York Yankees 29-20 (+500/+1000) - Aaron Judge’s hot streak has him more and more looking like the AL MVP again. Expect the Yankees to be on the market for starting pitching soon. Last Week’s Rank: 8th

#5. Texas Rangers 29-17 (+950/+2500) - Like Baltimore, the Rangers have stayed under the radar despite their record. How will they hold up now that it appears that Houston has found its footing? Last Week’s Rank: 5th

#4. Los Angeles Dodgers 29-19 (+260/+550) - Despite a tough weekend in St. Louis, the Dodgers look to be finding their stride. They will probably be on the market for pitching as the season moves forward. Last Week’s Rank: 5th

#3. Baltimore Orioles 31-16 (+1700/+4,000) - The O’s odds dropped slightly this week but, despite the second-best record in baseball, the oddsmakers are still skeptical. Will the Orioles be players at this year’s trade deadline? Last Week’s Rank:4th

#2. Atlanta Braves 29-17 (+200/+425) - Atlanta keeps finding ways to win even without its top two starters. The Braves' top farm system has flexed its muscles thus far. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#1. Tampa Bay Rays 34-14 (+310/+650) - The Rays finally looked a bit vulnerable this week with a 5-5 week. The loss of Drew Rasmussen for an extended time further puts pressure on the Rays’ ability to find pitching talent. 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 (-120) - Ohtani has jumped to the top of heap with easily the lowest odds to win the MVP. His highlight reel is long and his two-way status continues to keep him ahead of the pack. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Aaron Judge (+1200) - Having Judge in the middle of the lineup changes everything for the Yankees. If he approaches 50+ home runs again this year, he’ll give Ohtani a tough fight for the MVP. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#3. Mike Trout (+1000) - Trout has solid numbers thus far but his reputation may be elevating his spot along with a quiet field thus far. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#4. Wander Franco (+2000) - Franco has all the tools and has the fortune of playing for the team with the best record. If Tampa goes on to win the division, Franco will be in the MVP discussion. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#5. Yordan Alvarez (+3000) - My pick to win the award in 2022, Alvarez has all the tools and the team to be in the conversation. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

Top-five NL MVP Candidates

#1. Ronald Acuna (+125) - Acuna, like Ohtani, is far and away the odds-on favorite at the moment to win the NL MVP. He has the speed and power to back it up as well. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Fernando Tatis Jr. (+1300) - Everyone keeps waiting for the Padres to make their move. If and when they do, Tatis Jr. will be the main reason why. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Mookie Betts (+1500) - Betts’ power numbers are starting to round into form and he is the catalyst for one of the best teams in the National League. Last Week’s Rank: 3rd

#4. Pete Alonso (+1300) - Alonso’s odds went up this week but the Mets have also moved up. If his power numbers hold and the Mets are a playoff team, Alsono will be right there in the MVP race. Last Week’s Rank: 4th

#5. Nolan Arenado (+9000) - Want a long shot? How about the league’s premier 3rd baseman that has gotten hot and, not coincidentally, so have the Cardinals? Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

Top-three AL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Gerrit Cole (+350) - Cole has been stuck on five wins but wins have become secondary to this award in recent years. He has a 2.01 ERA and seven quality starts in 10 overall. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Shohei Ohtani (+700) - Ohtani’s ERA has moved over three after his most recent start. He could be hurt by fewer starts than most and his push for the MVP award. Last Week’s Rank: 2nd

#3. Framber Valdez (+2000) - The Astros’ best pitcher is a quality start machine and is coming off a complete-game win over the Athletics. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

Top-three NL Cy Young Candidates

#1. Zac Gallen (+190) - Gallen’s ERA jumped near three after a rough outing but he still is the odds-on favorite in the NL thanks to his otherwise dominant start. Last Week’s Rank: 1st

#2. Mitch Keller (+1800) - Keller has been a breakout start thus far this season with eight quality starts out of ten and a 0.97 WHIP thus far for the Pirates. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

#3. Justin Steele (+2500) - Steele has been excellent this season with eight quality starts, a 2.20 ERA, and a 6-1 record. Last Week’s Rank: Unranked

*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.