17 May, 2023
By mid-May in Major League Baseball, nobody receives the MVP award. Too many things, including injuries, can occur.
This is why seeing the MVP odds at BetUS around a quarter of the way through the MLB season is a little surprising.
Less than two months into the season, there are two clear favorites. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is -110 to win the American League MVP, while everyone else is +1000 or longer. Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves is +150 in the National League. Everyone else is +900 or longer.
Both have a significant lead, yet they are both legitimate.
It’s not surprising that Ohtani quickly built a large lead. He is a strong contender to win MVP every season he’s healthy because of his exceptional pitching and hitting abilities, which are unmatched in MLB history. Last season, it took Aaron Judge’s historic offensive season to defeat him. Ohtani might be impossible to stop this season.
With a.296 average, nine home runs, and 29 RBI this season, Ohtani is having a fantastic offensive campaign. He is also just slightly behind Gerrit Cole and Shane McClanahan in the Cy Young chances. That says everything. Ohtani is +550, McClanahan is +450, and Cole is +400 to win the Cy Young Award.
Mike Trout, Ohtani’s teammate, is next in the MVP odds at +1000. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. of the Toronto Blue Jays, first base, is listed at +1200. They would be fitting favorites absent Ohtani. When Ohtani is one of baseball’s top pitchers and has batting statistics that are comparable to theirs, it is difficult to compete.
Theoretically, Ohtani might regress to the group. Midway through the season, he may be dealt to the National League, but the Angels are above.500 and it would be difficult to move Ohtani if they were in the playoff hunt. Ohtani could experience one of two slumps, which is a disadvantage of being both a pitcher and a batter. Ohtani would suffer if his ERA skyrocketed or his batting average plummeted. Although it seems odd given how skilled Ohtani is at both.
At this point, Ohtani’s only chance of winning his second MVP in three seasons may come from an injury. In the event that Ohtani is sidelined, someone like Trout, Guerrero, or Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco may be an excellent bargain pick. But despite the odds, it’s difficult to wager against Ohtani.
But despite playing on a very strong Braves club, Acuna is off to an absurd start. In terms of runs, hits, steals, slugging percentage, and OPS (on base percentage plus slugging), he is the league leader. Tuesday saw Acuna hit his tenth long home run of the year. A 40-40 season is not impossible. He’s projected to hit 39 home runs and steal 66 bases. He’s having a fantastic season, and there’s no reason to think he can’t maintain the same level of performance. No one can question his brilliance.
But Acuna must maintain his health. He only played 120 games in one MLB season, which was in 2019. The possibility of injuries makes room for additional players. And because he lacks Ohtani’s pitcher skills, he is more likely to be caught.
First baseman Pete Alonso of the New York Mets is the second favorite, behind Acuna, at +900. If Acuna is out, he’s a solid backup. First baseman Paul Goldschmidt of the St. Louis Cardinals, who is off to a solid start and has +2500 odds, won it last year. Nolan Arenado of the Cardinals, who has been on a tear lately and has experience, may be a big winner at +10000 odds.
There’s a chance Acuna’s stats drop and rivals begin to overtake him. But if Ohtani and Acuna remain healthy, they might hold onto their season-long lead in the MVP race. Of course, the races aren’t completed yet, but the favorites have already jumped out to a significant lead.