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With Opening Day right around the corner, expert handicapper Ben Rolfe gives his picks for this season's AL MVP

BEST BET: (3u) Mike Trout @ +150

  • Mike Trout has won the MVP award in three of the past six years and has led the American League in WAR in six of the past eight seasons

The reason we’re backing Mike Trout

Mike Trout has been in the majors for eight full seasons and in those eight seasons he has led the American League in WAR six times. That is quite simply an incredible statistic that outlines just how dominant he has been since his stuttering introduction in 2011. When you then add in the incredible health he has displayed in those eight years it is hard to bet against him.

For four straight years he played over 155 games, and he has only played fewer than 120 once, in 2017. However, even in that injury-hampered year, he finished fourth in MLB in WAR and third in the AL. You could reel off stats all day for Trout, such as seven seasons hitting over .290, and just two seasons with fewer than 30 home runs.

The only problem when betting on Trout, is that people often seem to look for reasons to give it to someone else. We saw that in 2015 when Josh Donaldson won the award. However, it has taken either injury, like in 2017, or a phenomenal performance like Mookie Betts' in 2018, to stop him sweeping this award over the last four years.

The other issue betting Trout is that the return at +150 is relatively minimal to tie up your bank roll for six months. However, Trout is such a clear favorite that there is still value here if you are smart about your strategy.

(1u) Shohei Ohtani @ +3000

  • Ohtani will play both ways in 2020 keeping him in the national picture all season

The reason we’re backing Shohei Ohtani

After Trout, it's simply about looking for value and potential storylines to back. No storyline in the MLB has the chance to be a feel-good story more than that of Ohtani. Shut down from pitching in his debut season with an elbow injury, Ohtani will return to the mound in 2020 and will continue to take regular ABs for the Angels. Ohtani’s returns in his first two seasons have not been incredible, but the third season can often be a prime spot for a player to put it all together at the plate.

The keys to an MVP campaign are going to be Ohtani’s ability to pitch all season and the Angels being competitive in 2019. The Angels were uncompetitive last year, and their pitching was a big reason for that. If Ohtani can be the ace for a staff that helps their team to the playoffs and contributes at the plate, then his narrative could see him runaway with the MVP award in 2020.

(0.5u) Rafael Devers @ +4000

  • Devers numbers made a huge jump in 2019 and at just 23 he could be set to take another step in 2020

The reason we’re backing Rafael Devers

After a somewhat concerning 2018 season, the return from Devers in 2019 was incredible. 32 home runs, 129 runs, 115 RBI and a .311 batting average were the headline stats, but they certainly did not tell the full story. He cut his strikeout rate by more than 7.5% and his ISO jumped to .244 in 2019.

His increase in home runs were in large part due to an increase in PA, but he also increased his hard-hit rate last season. If he can take these numbers up another level in 2020, then he could be an MVP candidate even if Boston struggles to make an impact on the American League playoff picture.

Article Author


Ben is a football guru with years of experience covering the NFL. You can always count on Ben to pick a winner on Sunday!


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