Sports predictions serve so many purposes.
First and foremost, they are discussion points. Fans use them to spur debates. Analysts use them to drive up interest and monetize those debates. Talk shows use them to reel in and maintain viewers.
Beyond the obvious, though, sports predictions are also used to earn money. Friends will make fantasy league wagers with their other friends. Or people will invest money at sportsbooks and try to capitalize on big-picture lines. The latter instances are most popular when discussing win totals and eventual champions, but MVP predictions are another part of the calculus. That’s why sites will spend so much time agonizing over MVP cases in the NFL, or devote entire articles to deciding who will be the next NHL MVP.
This stuff matters. Whether you’re a fan, media member or avid sports bettor, MVP races inform what’s happening around the rest of the league, clueing you into which teams should be taken most seriously. MVP candidates, after all, usually only come from the best squads.
With the significance of MVP awards in mind, we’re going to forecast the next winner in all four major North American sports: football, basketball, baseball and hockey. These predictions will pertain to either ongoing or upcoming 2021 seasons, and they will be based on expected performances from both the players and teams.
NFL MVP: Patrick Mahomes, Kansas City Chiefs
Patrick Mahomes suffered two losses to close the 2020 NFL season. Aaron Rodgers beat him out for MVP, and then his Chiefs fell to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during a Super Bowl in which they were decidedly favored.
Expect him to come back with a vengeance next year.
Sure, some people have Mahomes fatigue. But that’s starting to wear off. He’s now two years removed from his first MVP award, and the Chiefs aren’t riding back-to-back Super Bowl wins as expected. Both elements give people a reason to spend more time critically thinking about their performance while also incentivizing Mahomes to go absolutely bonkers under center rather than operating in some sort of regular season cruise control mode.
“Patrick Mahomes” by theathletic is licensed under CC BY 3.0
NBA MVP: LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
Anyone following the 2020-21 NBA MVP race knows it’s currently a bloodbath. Up to seven players arguably have a legit shot at winning the next Maurice Podoloff Trophy: LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Curry, Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Some will even be prepared to make cases for Rudy Gobert and Luka Doncic.
As things stand, it feels like the award will wind up going to one of LeBron, Jokic or Embiid. People will naturally gravitate towards the latter two. LeBron already has four MVPs and is playing out his age-36 season. His time is over.
Or is it?
Given that superstar teammate Anthony Davis is expected to miss a bunch of time, LeBron’s MVP case now writes itself. He has no safety net under him. The Lakers are, quite literally, all him. This stretch he spends as a one-star act should ultimately win him the award.
MLB MVP: Fernando Tatis Jr., San Diego Padres
Fernando Tatis Jr. deserves way more attention in MLB’s latest MVP conversation. He finished fourth in voting for the 2020 season, and at 22, the shortstop is only going to build off his .571 slugging percentage and stellar defense.
Still, people tend to wonder whether the Padres will be good enough. Team success is a huge part of the MVP debate, especially in baseball.
This isn’t a concern to us. The Padres have loaded up on talent over each of the past two offseasons and now have the pitching staff to rival their position players.
Indeed, the Los Angeles Dodgers may still be the toast of the National League. But at the moment, San Diego has the look and feel of the third- or fourth-best team in all of baseball.
“Fernando Tatis Jr.” by Jerome Miron is licensed under CC BY 3.0
NHL MVP: Mitch Marnon, Toronto Maple Leafs
Many will be inclined to go with Connor McDavid or reigning MVP Leo Draisaitl. They rank first and second, respectively, in total points at this writing. And historically, finishing in the top two is the best way to punch your MVP ticket.
Here’s the thing: McDavid and Draisaitl are teammates on the Edmonton Oilers. Some voters will be dissuaded from choosing one of them knowing they have a superstar running mate. At best, McDavid and Draisaitl are going to knife away votes from one another.
Our pick is currently Mitch Marnon from the Toronto Maple Leafs. He is third in total points, and more than that, he headlines a first-place squad—an integral element when it comes to winning NHL’s Hart Trophy.
- Predicting the Next MVP in the NFL, NBA, MLB & NHL - February 22, 2021