by Stuart Kirsch
AL MVP Odds: Trout is the Biggest Fish in the AL MVP Pond… if He Plays
Mike Trout had a huge season in 2019, following a career-long pattern of excellence at his craft. Even as he toiled for the lowly Angels, he made room on his mantle for his third MVP award. Trout finished the season with a slash line of .291/45/104, but his extended stats are gaudier. He led the league in both OBP and Slugging, as well as a league-leading Offensive WAR of 8.3. He was top ten in HR, Runs, RBIs, and leading in any metric on wins and runs created. In his eight seasons in the bigs, Trout has placed first or second seven times (and fourth in 2017) in MVP balloting.
Considering everything other than the issues of a shortened season and player health, two offseason changes affect Trout’s MVP chances, outpacing the AL award field at +135. First, his biggest competitor, 2018 AL MVP Mookie Betts, moved to the NL. Second, Trout now has a more formidable lineup around him with addition of 3B Anthony Rendon and the return of Shohei Otani, which could well boost the entire team and turn Trout’s accomplishments into heroics.
AL MVP Odds: Betting on the Yankees as “Team of MVP” is a Smart Play
Time is often an equalizer over the slog of a 162-game season as injuries, quirks, and hot and cold streaks play roles. The Yanks are loaded with the talent that could bring them a pennant and a syncopated-season MVP to one of their stars. Aaron Judge, bitten by injury bugs, has not played a full season other than his Rookie of the Year and second-place-MVP season in 2017. Still he slugged 27 homers and had on OPS over .900 in 102 games in 2019. Judge’s odds for a 2020 AL MVP are +1200.
23-year-old shortstop Gleyber Torres launched 38 home run balls in 2019 and is on a trajectory to enter elite conversations. His MVP odds are +1900. In his first season since coming over from the Rockies, 2B DJ LeMahieu was the steadiest performer for the Yankees last year, batting .327 with 26 bombs, 102 RBIs, 109 Runs scored, and .893 OPS. LeMahieu finished fourth in the MVP balloting in 2019 and has odds of +3000 this year.
The anointed shining-star of the Yankee firmament, outfielder/DH Giancarlo Stanton, played only 18 games last season, and hopes to rekindle the monstrous power that brought him the 2017 NL MVP with the Marlins and the resultant huge contract to wear pinstripes. Stanton’s MVP odds are +3000.
Young, Left Side Infielders Round Out the AL MVP Favorites
Cleveland’s 26-year-old shortstop, Francisco Lindor has been part of the MVP picture throughput his five-year career, with three top-ten finishes. Lindor is a top defender and has hit more than 30 home runs in each of the last three years. His 2020 AL MVP odds are +1200. 26-year-old 3B Alex Bregman is a leader on the Astros, finishing second in MVP voting to Trout last year. His odds for 2020 are +1500.
Anthony Rendon just turned 30 and brings a World Series ring from the Nationals to his new home in Anaheim. Rendon’s odds for an AL MVP are +1600. A few hundred miles north of Angel Stadium, Matt Chapman patrols 3B in Oakland with a two Platinum Glove awards as the league’s best defender. Adding 36 homers and 102 Runs scored last year, the 27-year old Chapman’s MVP odds are +1800. Boston’s third baseman, 23-year-old Rafael Devers, is primed for the limelight with Betts’ exit. Devers led the league in doubles and total bases last year, and his odds for a 2020 AL MVP are +1900.
Pitchers to Keep an Eye on in the AL MVP Odds Race
With a short season, a pitcher with an amazing season may have an impact on the MVP race. Gerrit Cole signed a monster deal with the Yankees after a near-Cy Young season in Houston. He is the highest-rated pitcher on the board with MVP odds of +3500. Houston’s 2019 Cy Young-winning Justin Verlander comes in at +5500, while 2018 winner Blake Snell is at +10000. Japanese dual-threat sensation, Shohei Ohtani, returns from an injured half season in 2019 with odds of +1900.