MLB AL MVP Odds Update: Jose Ramirez Charges Into the Top Five

The 2022 MLB season is underway and Jose Ramirez put himself in the top five candidates for the AL MVP race.
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MLB AL MVP Odds Update: Jose Ramirez Charges Into the Top Five

Byron Buxton AL MVP Odds: (+2000, Previous: Unranked) (Bet $100 to Win $2000)

All of the collective baseball fandom breathed a huge sigh of relief when it was announced that Buxton avoided another serious injury when he had an awkward slide into second on Saturday. Assuming he misses only around 7-10 days, that should not impact his MVP candidacy. What will, however, is the fact that we now expect an injury to happen around almost every corner for Buxton, which is a shame since his production is clearly MVP-worthy.

In just seven games, Buxton already was among the league leaders with a .750 slugging percentage, three home runs, and five runs scored. This follows a year in 2021 that very likely would have ended in a top-three MVP finish had he played more than 61 games.

And that will perpetually be the issue with Buxton. He has played more than 92 games once in his seven previous seasons and he isn't off to the best of starts health-wise when he will be out for at least the first half of the Twins' first 16 games. We know the talent is there, we know the defense is there, but I won't be voting on Buxton to win any MVP awards until he shows us he can play 130 games consistently.

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Jose Ramirez AL MVP Odds: (+2000, Previous: Unranked) (Bet $100 to Win $2000)

Ramirez, the Guardians' new $141 million dollar man, has blasted through the first week and a half of the season. Coming in on Tuesday, he carries a .457/.500/.886 slash line which translates to a 1.386 OPS. He leads the majors in RBI with 15 and has a miniucule 5.05 strikeout rate. So much for a new contract hangover this season for Ramirez.

His offensive performances has led the Guardians to a surprising 4-5 start and the third-most runs scored in the American League. One must wonder, however, how much of his success is tied to scorching hot starts from players like Myles Straw, Steven Kwan, Owen Miller, and Oscar Mercado. Those guys are no the '27 Yankees, so when there aren't as many baserunners on in front of him and not as many people reaching base behind him, does Ramirez come back to earth a little bit?

Certainly, he won't finish the season with a 1.386 OPS, but a career year at age 29 is certainly within the realm of possibility. At these odds, I will certainly be wading into the betting waters with Ramirez.

Mike Trout Jr. AL MVP Odds: (+800, Previous: +500) (Bet $100 to Win $800)

Our one significant drop within the top five comes from Mike Trout, who has been merely great so far, and not superhuman like the other names surrounding him on this list. Plus, he just missed his second game after being hit on the hand with a pitch, so baseball fans and oddsmakers are watching that to see if this is another injury a la 2021.

The Angels are second in the AL in runs scored through 11 games, which is quite a feat considering the time Trout has missed, Anthony Rendon has been in and out of the lineup, and the back half of their offense is a who's-who of mediocrity. But if Trout can stay healthy, a top-four of Ohtani, Trout, Rendon, and Jared Walsh should allow all of those guys to put up prodigious numbers this season.

In terms of betting these MVP odds, +800 does look a whole lot better than +500 when you're talking about the best all-around player in baseball. But I don't see myself heavily investing here until I see the gargantuan numbers and a long stretch of good health. Will I miss on +800 with that route? Likely so, but I'll take +500 or +600 if we start to get the MVP Trout of old.

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Vladimir Guerrero Jr. AL MVP Odds: (+350, Previous: +450) (Bet $100 to Win $350)

The more things change, the more they stay the same for Vlad Jr. this season. He once again leads the majors in homers (five) and has a .780 slugging percentage plus top-20 numbers in wOBA, wRC+, and offensive WAR.

After a classic duel for the MVP with Shohei Ohtani last season, Guerrero seems poised to make a run at it again, so it makes sense that his odds now line up with Ohtani through the first two weeks. It is absolutely insane to think that Guerrero just turned 23 years old and that he could keep getting better over the next several seasons. He already has one of the top 70 single-season home run totals of all time (48 in 2021) and now has a murderer's row lineup protecting him on all sides.

Knowing that Guerrero has an uphill battle again for MVP considering Ohtani's contributions on the mound, I'm still investing heavily here. It's going to be an MVP for him one of these years and I would rather get in while the price is good than wait until it's a lock-in in August or September.

Shohei Ohtani AL MVP Odds: (+350, Previous: +400) (Bet $100 to Win $350)

The combination of batting and pitching is such an interesting conundrum when considering Ohtani's MVP case. Pitching certainly helped him win the award last year when he had a 3.18 ERA and 10.77 K/9 in 130 innings, going 9-2 in the process. So do we count it against him when he has a 7.56 ERA and on 0-2 record through his first 8.1 innings in 2022? Or do we just lump in any stats with the batting production for a cumulative effect? Even with the rocky first few starts, Ohtani earned 0.3 WAR via pitching. What do we do with that?

With the bat, he hasn't been anything special yet. He is slashing .234/.265/.468 with a 4.1% walk rate and very high 32.7% strikeout rate. That will surely improve throughout the season and batting leadoff, he earns plenty of plate appearances to amass massive counting stats.

I think what hurts Ohtani the most is that last season was just so extraordinarily good on both sides of the ball, that anything less than what he did in 2021 won't seem as impressive. The fact is, however, that Ohtani is a unicorn. A one-of-a-kind who likely deserves MVP any season he puts up just 20% above replacement level with the bat and on the mound. But for my money this year, I would rather prioritize Ramirez and Guerrero.

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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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