Is Red Sox first baseman Mike Napoli the best free-agent bargain in baseball this season?
Napoli originally was to sign with Boston for $39 million over three years, but that deal was scuttled when the team learned of Napoli’s avascular necrosis, a serious hip condition, during a physical. Instead, Napoli got a one-year, incentive-laden $5 million deal.
Should Napoli continue hitting as he has been, he will be in line for another big contract this winter. He leads the team with seven home runs, 33 RBIs and 80 total bases entering this week, while also hitting .268. In the most recent updated Bovada American League MVP award odds, Napoli was Boston’s top contender at 20-1. Of course, the Sox’ last MVP winner was Dustin Pedroia five years ago.
Detroit star Miguel Cabrera is the 2-1 runaway favorite to win his second straight MVP — no AL player has repeated as the league MVP since the White Sox’ Frank Thomas in 1993-94 (Mo Vaughn ended the Big Hurt’s three-peat bid in 1995). Last season, Cabrera became the first player since Carl Yastrzemski to win the Triple Crown. It’s not out of the question that Cabrera does it again in 2013. He enters this week leading the majors in batting average and RBIs, but has only seven homers after clubbing a career-high 44 a season ago.
Baltimore’s Chris Davis has been one of the big surprises in baseball this year and was the 5-1 second-favorite. Davis enters the week tied for the AL lead in homers and is behind only Cabrera in RBIs. Davis is also hitting .313; he’s a career .262 hitter so it remains to be seen if he can keep his current pace up.
The Yankees’ Robinson Cano (11-2), Rangers’ Ian Kinsler (15-2) and Tigers’ Prince Fielder (10-1) round out the favorites.
Over in the Senior Circuit, Atlanta outfielder Justin Upton is the 9-2 favorite. The Red Sox were very interested in trading for Upton, but they were on a list of teams to which he could refuse a deal. The Diamondbacks traded him to the Braves for a package of infielder Martin Prado and four young players. As of now the trade looks like a fleecing for Atlanta, as Upton is just 25 years old.
Upton leads the majors with 12 homers and is hitting .269 with 21 RBIs. It’s a good thing that Upton worked out for the Braves, because their $75 million investment in Justin’s brother B.J. looks terrible thus far. He’s hitting .153, which is by far the worst average of any qualifier in the National League. The Braves haven’t had an MVP winner since Chipper Jones in 1999.
Washington second-year player Bryce Harper is the 11-2 second-favorite for NL MVP. The 2012 NL Rookie of the Year is still just 20 years old. He enters the week hitting .297 with 10 homers and 21 RBIs for a Nationals offense that is struggling as a whole, ranking No. 27 in the majors in runs. Washington is still the co-NL favorite at 4-1 with the Braves.
The Rockies’ Troy Tulowitzki (15-2), Reds’ Joey Votto (10-1), the Giants’ and reigning NL MVP Buster Posey (10-1) and the Brewers’ Ryan Braun (10-1) round out the favorites.
This post is presented by Bovada