The American League Most Valuable Player market is always so interesting to me. Mike Trout should probably win the award every year, but he only has three AL MVP awards in his trophy case. He’s finished in the top five in voting every year, but only has three of them, despite leading the league in OPS+ six times and finishing very close to the top in three other seasons.
It all depends on whether or not the voters want to give it to him. I would venture that there is some Trout fatigue among beat writers. The votes are public at season’s end and there are some votes that simply make no sense whatsoever from time to time. There are players that are now in Trout’s stratosphere, which could actually aid his case because some guys will put up Troutian numbers and it will be mentioned that Trout has done that every year since 2012.
But, what’s the fun in betting Mike Trout as a +200 favorite to win the MVP?
There are a few things to keep in mind about MVP voting. In the American League, more so than the National League, you have to make the playoffs to win unless your last name is Trout. The last AL MVP to be on a team that missed the playoffs other than Trout was Alex Rodriguez in 2003.
The last pitcher to win the AL MVP was Justin Verlander in 2011. Prior to that, it was Dennis Eckersley in 1992. Pitchers don’t win this award. Don’t bet on one to do it. They have their own award that they can win.
Only two AL hitters since 2003 have won the MVP with a batting average under .300. I’d like to think that beat writers have evolved in their analysis, but that doesn’t really seem to be the case. In fairness, all of the guys that have hit over .300 have had nice offensive seasons. I’d prefer to look more at power production, especially in today’s game.
I’m listing odds from one sportsbook, but I would very much advise that you shop around for the best odds on the players you want to bet. There is a huge difference between +1200 one place and +1500 another place. Some odds will be even better than that. Shop around and maximize your payout.
AL MVP Odds
|J D Martinez||+6000||+10000|
AL MVP Picks & Predictions
We don’t really have to worry about a player not on a playoff-caliber team at the top of the board. Jose Ramirez at +1200 is the only one whose team really isn’t being given much of a shot. If the Cleveland Indians do get there, Ramirez will have played an enormous part, much like he did last year carrying the offense. The Indians offense was in the bottom five in baseball and Ramirez was the best player in the American League. He was by fWAR, anyway, but Jose Abreu won the award.
Anthony Rendon (+1500)
I guess the Los Angeles Angels are something of a long shot in the AL West race and it stands to reason that Trout and Anthony Rendon could share the spotlight. I actually don’t hate Rendon at +1500 because he’s got good power and a high walk rate to drive up his on-base percentage and his OPS. A lot of voters still prefer OPS over a lot of other stats. OPS ignores batting average, so even if Rendon lags there, he’ll still have big numbers.
In a lot of ways, my approach is to cross guys off the list to narrow it down instead of making a case for them. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. comes to mind. He hits too many ground balls to have the power production required. Similarly, guys like Yoan Moncada, Miguel Sano, Luis Robert, Teoscar Hernandez, and probably even Franmil Reyes strike out too much. They don’t put enough balls in play and are unlikely to carry a high enough average to gain the favor of the voters.
Nelson Cruz is on the cusp of that, but he’s also a DH. Winning the MVP without playing a position is extremely difficult. Even Jason Giambi played 124 games at first base in 2000 when he won. Nobody says that you have to play the position well. You just have to play one. That would cancel out Yordan Alvarez, too. Probably Shohei Ohtani as well.
Rendon doesn’t strike out a lot. He walks a lot and Angel Stadium has gotten friendlier for power with some modifications in right center field. He may get more attention being Trout’s sidekick and that may even push some votes his way as people take notice of just how impressive his numbers are likely to be.
DJ LeMahieu (+3300)
DJ LeMahieu at +3300 is a very interesting player to me. LeMahieu has a chance to rack up a ton of counting stats on the Yankees. He struck out less than 10% of the time last season and laughed in the face of the Coors Field Effect. Furthermore, LeMahieu was on about a 25-homer pace. If he could post that with a high average and a high OBP, he is very much in the discussion. He also plays in a major market with a likely playoff team and had the highest wRC+ in the AL last season.
This is probably my favorite of the AL MVP odds listed.
George Springer (+3000)
Along with some interest in Rendon and stronger interest in LeMahieu, George Springer is intriguing at +3000. Springer could share attention with some Blue Jays players, but Toronto could split time in Dunedin and Buffalo, which means two good hitter’s parks in home games for Springer. Playing road games at Yankee Stadium, Fenway Park, and Oriole Park at Camden Yards doesn’t hurt either. It’s better than playing road games in Angel Stadium, Oakland Coliseum, and T-Mobile Park. Not to mention, Minute Maid Park has the short porch with the Crawford Boxes, but doesn’t play as hitter-happy when the roof is closed as opposed to when open.
Springer has already been a better hitter on the road despite some of those cavernous parks in the division and will also go to a better home hitting environment, regardless of where the Jays play. He’s got the chance to put up some serious numbers.
Rendon is on my list of considerations, but LeMahieu and Springer look like bets to me, so long as they get through Spring Training healthy enough for me to wager on.