MLB AL MVP Odds: Shohei Ohtani Edges Out Trout in First MVP Odds Release

Before the 2022 MLB season begins, oddsmakers believe Shohei Ohtani's ability to be a repeat MVP winner. But teammate Mike Trout and superstar Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are right on his heels.
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MLB AL MVP Odds: Shohei Ohtani Edges Out Trout in First MVP Odds Release

Before the 2022 MLB season begins, oddsmakers believe Shohei Ohtani's ability to be a repeat MVP winner. But teammate Mike Trout and superstar Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are right on his heels.

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Wander Franco AL MVP Odds: (+2200) (Bet $100 to Win $2200)

If I were responsible for making the odds, I would have Bo Bichette or Rafael Devers (both +2500) in this spot instead of the tremendously inexperienced Franco. The young Rays' shortstop did impress in his 70 game audition in 2021, slashing .288/.347/.463 with a 129 OPS+ in 308 plate appearances.

But putting him at the same level as a former MVP like Aaron Judge assumes a lot of things. First, Franco outperforms all projection systems this preseason. Most predict Franco will bat around .300 with 20ish home runs and 10 stolen bases. That's quite impressive for a 21-year-old, but unlikely to compete with numbers from a healthy Guerrero, Trout, or Ohtani.

Second, the Rays as a team would have to outperform their projected fourth-place finish in the AL East. In a stunning arms race in that division, all of Trevor Story, Kevin Gausman, Josh Donaldson, Anthony Rizzo, Matt Chapman, and Jose Berrios were added to Tampa's division rivals. The Rays' biggest offseason addition was...Corey Kluber? The Rays have been a playoff team for two years running, but this might be the season it comes to an end.

Aaron Judge AL MVP Odds: (+2200) (Bet $100 to Win $2200)

Speaking of the AL East, Judge now is slotted to bat second in an absolutely loaded lineup that features mashers in every spot one through six. If Judge can stay healthy this year, he is a lock for 40 home runs and 100 RBI, plus his usual strong average and slugging percentage.

Despite ongoing concerns about his health, Judge was able to play in 148 games last season and amass 633 plate appearances. He missed significant time in 2019-2020, but he is still just 29 years old and is fully ready to go for 2022.

The Yankees are projected to finish second in their division, but only by a couple of games behind the Blue Jays. With some pitching health and another Cy Young caliber season from Gerrit Cole, the Yankees could easily win their division. Oddsmakers have the Yankees (+250) just slightly behind the Blue Jays to take home the crown. If the Pinstripers' lineup mashes as everyone expects, we could see numbers circa Judge in 2017.

At +2200, Judge looks like a great place to lay some bets.

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. AL MVP Odds: (+500) (Bet $100 to Win $500)

The AL East reign continues with a player who many think could have won the award last season. In his breakout campaign, Guerrero played in 161 games and slugged 48 homers with 111 RBI and a .311 average. It was a truly remarkable season that was supported by all the advanced metrics.

His walk rate went up, his strikeout rate went down. His BABIP was just slightly above league average but that's because he cut his groundball rate from 54.6% in 2020 to just 44.8% in 2021. Guerrero was first in the AL in slugging, wRC+, wOBA, and offensive WAR. The only thing you can point to that might make him regress is an unsustainable 26.5% HR/FB rate.

But Guerrero doesn't need to hit 48 home runs again to be MVP-worthy. His Blue Jays are projected to win the division and score the most runs in the American League. If they do end up blowing people out of the water with their offense, it is likely Guerrero that will be the biggest lynchpin of the lineup. I'm certainly placing some speculative bets on Vlad Jr. in hopes that the breakout continues this season.

Mike Trout AL MVP Odds: (+450) (Bet $100 to Win $450)

There's not much debate around the fact that, when healthy, Trout is perhaps the best all-around player in the majors. The problem is, the majors haven't been able to see him on the field for at least 140 games since 2018. Trout was limited to just 36 games last season with various injuries but made it clear this offseason that he wants to continue playing centerfield, the most demanding position this side of catcher.

If Ohtani continues to play at a level that puts him on base almost 37% of the time and Jared Walsh and Anthony Rendon can provide consistent protection behind him, this could be another MVP-caliber season for the former three-time MVP.

But at 30 years old and with more than 10,000 innings on his resume, it's hard not to think that either injuries or fatigue or just simple regression will keep Trout out of the discussion. The Angels' place in the standings certainly will as well. They are projected to battle the Mariners for second in the AL West and be about a .500 team.

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Shohei Ohtani AL MVP Odds: (+400) (Bet $100 to Win $400)

Does Ohtani have a built-in advantage as the only player listed in either league's MVP odds that both hits and pitches? Yes. Was that the case before last season as well? Also, Yes. But after 150 games combined in 2019-2020 where he hit for a .259 batting average with just 25 homers and 86 RBI, he was on no one's radar for MVP at this point last year.

But after hitting 46 home runs with 100 RBI and 26 stolen bases AND winning nine games on the mound with a 3.18 ERA last year, the secret is out. Ohtani is a force on both sides of the ball. Perhaps it's finally being adjusted to the major leagues after four seasons (including two COVID seasons), but we finally saw the overwhelming dominance he displayed in Japan.

The American League has not had a back-to-back MVP winner since Miguel Cabrera in 2012-2013, so the odds of repeating are not in his favor. But Ohtani has the unapproachable variables on his side. No other player can make contributions all over the field as he can. If ever there was a modern player who could give us our first repeat MVP in 10 years, it would be Ohtani.

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Proudest husband and dad you will ever find. When I'm not with my wife and two kids I split my time working in higher ed, grinding DFS and season-long, collecting silver age comics, studying behavioral economics, and drinking coffee. I once played Pat Connaughton in an actual NBA DFS lineup for money. Astros, Rockets, and Texans for life.

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