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MLB MVP Odds: Aaron Judge, Mike Trout Battle it out in the AL MVP Race

The American League has no shortage of viable MVP candidates as we approach the halfway point of the season. But Mike Trout and Aaron Judge stand out from the pack with their elite power numbers and run production. Which one will take home the 2022 AL MVP and can any other player stand in their way?
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MLB MVP Odds: Aaron Judge, Mike Trout Battle it out in the AL MVP Race

It's uncommon to see someone with +100 odds to win an MLB MVP award just 40% of the way through the season. There is so much baseball to be played and usually we have several worthy candidates. But that is where Aaron Judge finds himself through the Yankees' first 68 games. His 25 home runs, 50 RBI, and .300/.378/.644 so far are downright Ruthian as he looks to secure his first MVP award (he placed second in 2017).

But in the past few weeks, Mike Trout (+550 to win) has been gaining steam and is beginning to put up the incredible numbers we saw from him in previous MVP-winning seasons like 2014, 2016, and 2019. Trout is now up to 21 homers, 43 RBI and a .284/.385/.640 slash in five fewer games than Judge.

Both are equally dominant the last 30 days (Judge: 10 homers, 19 RBI, .392 wOBA; Trout: 9 homers, 17 RBI, .370 wOBA), so who has the upper hand as we head into the final half of the season? Let's break down the case for each.

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NameOddsImplied Chance
Aaron Judge+10050%
Shohei Ohtani+45018.18%
Mike Trout+55015.38%
Jose Ramariez+10009.09%
Rafael Devers+15006.25%

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Aaron Judge AL MVP Odds +100 (Bet $100 to win $100)

Almost since the first week of the season, it has seemed like Judge is the prohibitive favorite to win the AL MVP. There have been challenges from Jose Ramirez, Rafael Devers, and Trout, but Judge's power outburst (including five multi-home run games has pushed away all challengers.

Judge also, of course, benefits from a rising-tide-lifts-all-boats situation with the New York Yankees. Their other-worldly offense has guided them to the most runs in the AL (348) and their 50-18 record is 7.5 games better than the second-place Houston Astros.

That offensive production has allowed Judge to come to bat with men on base at an astounding rate. So far, 127 of his 289 plate appearances have come with men on base. In those situations, he is hitting .298/389/.519, with pitchers deciding more often than not they would rather just put him on base (18 walks) than risk him hitting.

The Yankees are on a historic pace and are barreling towards a grudge match with the Los Angeles Dodgers or New York Mets in the World Series. If the Yankees keep up their historic pace (119 wins), it would be hard to see the voters not rewarding the best player on an all-time team.

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Mike Trout AL MVP Odds +550 (Bet $100 to win $550)

Even with five fewer games and 27 fewer plate appearances, Trout's Wins Above Replacement (WAR) this year (3.6), is essentially identical to Judge (3.8). Part of the reason why? Defense. Trout has half a win more than Judge in defensive WAR, and continues to play a strong center field even as he approaches the age of 31.

Judge can't compare to Trout's defense as a right fielder, so part of the risk calculation of betting on this MVP race will be how much you think voters weigh defensive contributions, particularly when the player's team is out of contention. The Angels famously lost 14 games in a row to fall completely out of the AL West and they now sit six games out of a Wild Card spot as well. Even when players like Shohei Ohtani have two home runs and eight RBI (as he did on Tuesday), the Angels find a way to lose.

Mike Trout is likely the more irreplaceable player of the two when compared to their team contexts. If the Yankees lost Judge, they would still have Giancarlo Stanton, Josh Donaldson, Gleyber Torres, DJ LeMahieu, plus the best pitching staff in the majors. The Angels without Trout would feature a two-way Ohtani, an upstart Taylor Ward, and not much else.

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AL MVP Best Bet

It may not be the sexiest bet around, but MVP voters tend to award the player with the flashiest stats on one of the best teams. Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts, and Jose Abreu are all recent examples of AL MVP winners whose teams were among the best of the best.

That means Judge deserves to be in the drivers' seat moving forward. He will likely face stiff challenges from players like Jose Ramirez and Rafael Devers in addition to Trout. But Trout also faces the undeniable challenge of being on a the same team with a perennial MVP candidate in Ohtani. Historically, players like that split votes and harm both.

Barring any injury or total collapse, this looks like the year Judge finally takes down the MVP award.

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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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