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Topps Chrome - The Race to the MVP Buyback

Updated: Jun 28

Topps recently announced 2024 Topps Chrome with the 3rd season of the MVP buyback program. For those who don’t know, when the AL and NL MVPs are announced in October, collectors can exchange those player's cards for credit at participating local card shops (see Topps’s website for more details). It’s a great program to promote this product, encourage some ripping, and, most importantly, support local card shops nationwide during baseball off-season. 

Topps Chrome is being released one week before the National this year. Last year at the National, Joey was searching the show floor for Acuna and Ohtani Topps Chrome cards. This time last year, they were the front runners for the MVP race, and both won. Let’s look at the front runners for the American League and National League MVP races to help us prepare for who to collect in 2024 Topps Chrome. 

American League MVP Race

There has been a pretty clear contender each year in this conference. Aaron Judge won two years ago while breaking the AL single-season home run record, and last year, Ohtani had an amazing year despite needing surgery toward the end of the season. 

This year is about the same, with Aaron Judge's odds starting at +550 (FanDuel) and then breaking out to a great start. Let’s look at my top 3 picks for the AL MVP race with their stats, betting odds, and some factors in play.

As of the week of June 24th:

  1. Aaron Judge (OF) 

  • Season Stats: .300 AVG, 84 Hits, 50 RBIs, 28 HR (on pace to meet his single-season record)

  • Betting Odds: -135 (FanDuel)

  • Factors: He needs to continue to stay healthy. Recently, a pitch hit his hand, causing a bit of a scare, but nothing serious. He will win again if he stays healthy and continues to hit home runs. 

  1. Gunner Henderson (SS)

  • Season Stats: .279 AVG, 83 Hits, 53 RBIs, 24 HR

  • Betting Odds: +350 (Fanduel)

  • Factors: He was on a tear to start the season! If Gunner can pull up his batting average and help the Orioles get back to the postseason, he could pull ahead of Judge.

  1. Juan Soto (OF) 

  • Season Stats: .305 AVG, 62 Hits, 56 RBIs, 18 HR

  • Betting Odds: +650 (FanDuel)

  • Factors: Soto coming to New York is was not only good for his career but also for the Yankees. The only thing stopping him is Aaron Judge. If he can keep pushing, hit some more home runs, and Judge dips, Soto can pull ahead. 

National League MVP Race

This year’s NL MVP race was the most talked about before the season, with Ohtani moving from the AL to the NL. We’ve also had a few swings in the race leaders. 

To start the season, the reigning MVP, Acuna, topped the MVP odds at +500 (FanDuel). That changed quickly, with Mookie Betts starting hot for his first 20 games of the season. He had a .338 AVG, 31 Hits, 18 RBIs, and 6 HR. Again, that changed after Mookie Betts exited the game on June 17th with a fractured hand, leaving him out for 6-8 weeks. It could have been Acuna's race to win if he hadn’t had a season-ending ACL injury a few weeks prior. 

With injuries, the NL MVP race has been all over the place, but let’s look at my top candidates based on stats, betting odds, and factors in play.

As of June 20th, 2024:

  1. Shohei Ohtani (DH) 

  • Season Stats: .321 AVG (Career Best), 97 Hits, 57 RBI’s, 23 HR.

  • Betting Odds: -120 (FanDuel)

  • Factors: He is only DHing this season due to having surgery last season. When he won last season, he also pitched most of the season. The big thing stopping him is he is only hitting, so he needs to continue to make up for not being on the mound this season. 

  1. Bryce Harper (1B)

  • Season Stats: .285 AVG, 80 Hits, 48 RBI’s, 17 HR 

  • Betting Odds: +310 (FanDuel)

  • Factors: Overall, Bryce is having a great season, but it is not like his past MVP-winning seasons (2015 and 2021), where he had a .300 batting average. He could pull ahead to win if he can bring up his average and help the Phillies win the NL East for the first time in 13 years. 

  1. Fernando Tatis Jr. (OF)

  • Season Stats: .279 AVG, 86 Hits, 36 RBI’s, 14 HR. 

  • Betting Odds: +310 (FanDuel)

  • Factors: This is the Tatis that everyone has been waiting to see take the next step, but he ended up on the 10-IL this week. Staying away from injury is the only thing that could have given him a chance. So if the people above him stay healthy, this won’t be his year. 

Can I Predict The Future?

As you can see, the MVP race is all over the place. Injuries are the biggest factor in any sport, and this has been the case for baseball this season, especially with the National League, which has seen injury swings already. However, there is one thing that I am looking at that will factor into my MVP-collecting decision. 

In 2022, Aaron Judge was the top-voted player in the AL, which automatically added him to the All-Star roster as a starter. He went on to win his first MVP. In 2023, Shohei Ohtani and Ronald Acuna Jr. got the top votes for the All-Star Game in the AL and NL. What did they do later that year? Win AL and NL MVP. 

This year’s 2024 All-Star Game phase 1 voting is happening. As of June 23rd, 2024, Aaron Judge leads voting in the American League, and Bryce Harper leads voting in the National League. Does that mean they will win all All-Star Voting and the MVP? We will have to wait for the second half of the season to play out to find out!

Ultimately, I hope you get to participate in this amazing program. I know from shop owners I’ve spoken to that it has been great as it continues to bring collectors back to their shops and support them. Pick up your favorite players and cards, rip some Topps Chrome, and save up those cards to support your local card shop later this year!

“When we support local businesses, we’re supporting our neighbors, our friends, and our families.” - Steve Jobs. 


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