So who’s the favorite for NL MVP now?

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Our own Drew Silva asked a good question on Twitter this morning:

It seems to me that McCutchen and Tulo were clearly the best two candidates, with McCutchen probably being the favorite given that the Pirates are winning. As for Puig: he’s a good candidate. But Vegas doesn’t have him as the favorite right now. From Bovada:

Odds to Win the 2014 NL MVP
Clayton Kershaw (LAD) 4/7
Giancarlo Stanton (MIA) 7/4
Yasiel Puig (LAD) 10/1

It does seem like a pitcher’s year if McCutchen doesn’t come back effectively and soon. When Justin Verlander won his MVP in 2011 his ERA, ERA+, strikeout rate, walk rate and just about everything else was inferior to Kershaw’s right now. The one area where Verlander had a clear advantage was wins — 24 — whereas Kershaw, thanks to missing all of April, is on pace for “only” 19 wins. His minuscule loss total may make up for that to some extent, but maybe not enough to sway MVP voters who tend to like starting pitchers to win 24 games or more — seriously, go look it up — in order to claim the MVP too.

Should be interesting, though.

Japanese Baseball to begin June 19

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Japanese League commissioner Atsushi Saito announced that Japan’s professional baseball season will open on June 19. Teams can being practice games on June 2. There will be no fans. Indeed, the league has not yet even begun to seriously discuss a plan for fans to begin attending games, though that may happen eventually.

The season will begin three months after its originally scheduled opening day of March 20. It will be 120 games long. Teams in each six-team league — the Central League and Pacific League — will play 24 games against each league opponent. There will be no interleague play and no all-star game.

The announcement came in the wake of a national state of emergency being lifted for both Tokyo and the island of Hokkaido. The rest of the country emerged from the state of emergency earlier this month. This will allow the Japanese leagues to follow leagues in South Korea and Taiwan which have been playing for several weeks.

In the United States, Major League Baseball is hoping to resume spring training in mid June before launching a shortened regular season in early July. That plan is contingent on the league and the players’ union coming to an agreement on both financial arrangements and safety protocols for a 2020 season. Negotiations on both are ongoing. Major League Baseball will, reportedly, make a formal proposal about player compensation tomorrow.