After a hectic offseason, Spring Training awaits and MVP odds have been set for both leagues. Mike Trout is at a ridiculous +100, as the odds are in his favor to take home the MVP award for a fourth time. Mookie Betts jumped from the American League to the National League and has become the favorite to win the MVP with Los Angeles. Betts being out of the American League has given Trout a bigger advantage. Will we see a pitcher take him the MVP award? Only Clayton Kershaw has been the one to take it home since 2000. We have seen back-to-back MVPs just once in the last decade, with that being Miguel Cabrera back in 2012 and 2013. Trout has yet to have consecutive MVPs, but this could be the year.
National League MVP Odds
Ronald Acuna was +300 before Mookie Betts was traded to the Dodgers. Acuna is now at +600, and that creates some more value. Acuna is coming off a season where he had 41 home and 31 steals. He had an .883 OPS, finishing 5th in MVP voting. This is going to be an incredibly close race, but a 40/40 season for Acuna is going to put him in the thick of things. Betts had a 6.8 WAR last season, which would have been third behind Cody Bellinger and Christian Yelich. Betts is going to see a slight drop in home run numbers moving from the AL East to the NL West. However 20/20 upside with his defense and ability to create and drive in runs is going to be big. This Dodgers lineup is also something. Bellinger broke out last year with a 9.0 WAR, playing great defense and also hitting 47 HR with 15 SB. He comes in at +800.
If Christian Yelich stayed healthy last year, would we have seen him take home the award? He had 1.100 OPS, which led the entire majors. He stole 30 bases, and hit 44 home runs. Yelich is back and healthy for the start of the season, and should carry Milwaukee once again. Yelich at +700 is an excellent bet before the season gets deeper.
Things are quiet. Too quiet. Bryce Harper struggled at times last year, but still mashed 35 home runs and had a .372 OBP. While he may not get back to his ridiculous 2015 numbers where he took all first place votes and had a 10.0 WAR, but he is still within striking distance at +1200. Juan Soto is just 21 years old, and is already one of the best players in baseball. In his first full season, he had 220 combined runs and RBIs. So far he has a .403 OBP in his career in over 1100 plate appearances. With Anthony Rendon gone, the focal point of the Nationals will be on Soto. Coming in at +1200, this is strong value for someone who is of extreme importance and continues to rise.
This is a tough crowd to beat for a pitcher, and the whole playing one out of five days still doesn’t sit well with some voter.s However, Jacob deGrom is the best pitcher in the National League. Wins shouldn’t be a stat that define pitchers, but they are to some. deGrom should be a 20 win guy most seasons, but he plays for the Mets. This team has grown, and have a chance to make a playoff push. Another 250+ strikeout season and an ERA around the two range is going to put deGrom in contention, especially if he can top 18 wins.
American League MVP Odds
This is honestly a section just for Mike Trout. We are watching a modern day legend. He is already top 50 in career WAR, and that is all-time among position players. Trout ranks 6th all time in wRC+, one point behind Barry Bonds, and two points head of Mickey Mantle. He is 21st in OBP and 8th in OPS. Looking at least year, even with Alex Bregman neck and neck in most stats, and also playing 20 more games than him which helped a bit, Trout still won the MVP award. Betts had a ridiculous 2018 when he edged Trout in the MVP race, and his 2017 season was cut short due to injury where he played 114 games. The only person who can beat Mike Trout, is Mike Trout. We have seen a few injuries ding him up for a few weeks at a time over the last few seasons.
After Trout at +100, Aaron Judge and Gleyber Torres are sitting at +1200. Torres finished 17th in voting last year, posting an .871 OPS. The issue with Torres is that his defense and lack of speed are not quite enough to get him over the hump. Judge has played 102 and 112 games over the past two years, missing plenty of time with injuries. Durability seems to be an issue, as well as his hefty strikeout rate. While his defense did improve, these guys are at about half the WAR of Trout over the last few seasons.
With Betts gone in Boston, the Red Sox have a trio of names highlighted within the table. Rafael Devers is coming off a breakout year where he had the 9th best OPS. He also led the AL in hits. Devers had a 5.3 WAR, and had 10% of the votes. His defense still needs to improve, and he won’t offer with much speed. Devers is going to have a close MVP season at some point, but as long as Trout is around it will be tough. If we were looking strictly at offense, J.D. Martinez would be more in the mix, but not playing defense is going to cost him a shot.
The most interesting name for me is Shoehi Ohtani. He has been cleared to pitch this year, but not until late May or early June. But still, Ohtani has the upper hand here where he can make a difference on the mound but also as a hitter. The upside is there, and we have seen his ability to do both at the Major League level. He will need to stay healthy of course, but 15-20 starts for Ohtani and a healthy year at the plate could have him as a sneaky option at +1400.
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