Baseball Betting: World Baseball Classic MVP Betting
by Matt Severance - 03/04/2009
Somewhat surprisingly, Bodog lists not a slugger like Alex Rodriguez, David Ortiz or Ryan Braun as the favorite to be named the Most Valuable Player of this year World Baseball Classic, but instead two pitchers from Team USA.
That would be Jake Peavy at 14/1 and Roy Oswalt at 15/1. But the bookies setting World Baseball Classic MVP betting odds obviously do their homework, and Team Japan pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka was the MVP of this event in the inaugural 2006 version. Dice-K won all three of his starts and had a 1.38 ERA. Not coincidentally, the Boston Red Sox won a bidding war to bring him to the majors months later.
And it does make some sense that it's a Team USA pitcher, as the Americans are the favorites to win this year along with the Dominicans. Only a team that reaches the finals, and no doubt the one that wins the whole thing, will be home to the event's MVP. The U.S. opens with a game against Canada and should win that one, setting up a likely game with Venezuela. But there's little doubt the Americans will advance out of Round 1.
Remember that this tournament is not round-robin as it was in 2006 but will be double elimination in Round 1. The pool winners and runners-up will advance to Round 2, which also will be double-elimination. Then the semifinals and final are one-game deals.
Peavy will start Team USA's opening game on Saturday in Toronto. In the first WBC, Peavy made two starts, including the U.S. opener against Mexico. In eight innings total, he was 0-0 with a 3.38 ERA.
"I think I know how I am going to feel March 7," Peavy said to reporters. "I know that the competitive juices will be flowing."
Peavy expects to throw 50-60 pitches against Canada, and it has been reported that pitch counts for all of Team USA's starters will be more conservative this time around than in 2006. Thus I believe that it's not a good idea to bet on an American starting pitcher winning the MVP. Team USA has a glut of relievers in expectation of the starters not going too far. The Americans will play a maximum of eight games in a span of 17 days.
However, Oswalt makes a good point that pitchers are often ahead of hitters at this time of year, as he expects to be.
"I'm ahead of my normal pace because I wanted to be ready (for the WBC). And I should be ahead of the hitters now. It's early for the hitters, and they haven't seen much live pitching yet," Oswalt said.
The next group of players below the two American pitchers that are at 20/1 to win the MVP of the WBC are Dominican Republic pitcher Edinson Volquez (Reds), Ortiz, A-Rod and young Japanese pitching star Yu Darvish.
Darvish might be the best bet of all, as he will start Team Japan's opener against China. And since he's not currently in the American majors, there won't be any pressure to limit his innings in this event. The 22-year-old Darvish was 16-4 with a 1.88 ERA last season for the Nippon Ham Fighters and pitched one game in the Beijing Olympics.
But this will be Darvish's chance to have an international coming-out party much like Dice-K in 2006 and get those major-league teams to bid big on him in the near future.
You might want to stay away from A-Rod, as news came out that he has a cyst in his hip and might have to pull out of the WBC. Rodriguez is scheduled to see a doctor on Wednesday, with his status likely to be made known then. Even if Rodriguez only has a cyst and nothing worse, it's unlikely that the Yankees will want him to risk further injury by playing in the tournament.