Vaughn Dalzell breaks down why he is taking Juan Soto to the bank for National League MVP in his first full season with the San Diego Padres.
National League MVP: Juan Soto (+550)
Juan Soto enters his first full season with the Padres and they are loaded, unlike the Nationals squad he was with to start last year.
Soto hit 27 homers with a .242 batting average for the Padres and Nationals, the lowest batting average of his career. Soto played 101 games with Washington and 52 with San Diego last year. He has played at least 150 games in three of the past four seasons, so that's what I am expecting if he's healthy all season.
This is a bounce back year in a way, although his trade halfway through the season gives him a pass for the "down" year, in my opinion.
Prior to last year, Soto's career-low for batting average was .282. That came during his second year with the Nats and we'd have to believe he gets back around that number in his first full season with San Diego.
Looking over the lineup for the Padres, San Diego is loaded with Manny Machado, Xander Bogaerts, Jake Cronenworth, Ha-Seong Kim, Austin Nola, Trent Grisham and Fernando Tatis Jr. when he returns from injury.
That is an insane lineup that should rival the Dodgers in the NL West. Soto should have plenty of opportunities to rack up runs and RBIs in the middle of that dangerous lineup, not to mention he was one of the best in the league at taking strikes or refusing to strikeout. Soto posted a league-high 20.3% walk rate last year and recorded a +145 WRC+.
In previous seasons, Soto finished top 10 three-straight years until last season. He finished 9th in 2019, 5th in 2020, and 2nd in 2021.
I grabbed Soto MVP odds at +550 and would go down to +300. I think he finally gets that first MVP.
Pick: Juan Soto to win National League MVP (1u)
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