As an extremely steep favorite to win the American League MVP award in 2023, Los Angeles Angels pitching/hitting sensation Shohei Ohtani is almost assured of securing the honor for the second time in his career.
That’s what many media analysts have been bellowing the past several weeks.
Ohtani won the award in 2021 and wound up second in the voting last season, finishing behind the New York Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who set an AL record with 62 homers.
This year, Ohtani, a six-year veteran, is on pace to shatter his career highs of 46 homers and 100 RBIs from that award-winning season two years ago.
Not all online baseball betting sites are even taking bets on the MVP race these days, but the ones that are, including BetMGM, BetRivers, DraftKings, FanDuel, and Caesars Sportsbook, still offer semi-appealing longshot choices to beat out Ohtani for the honor.
In a matter of hours, his odds then shortened at some books to -20000 (DraftKings).
With seven weeks remaining in the Major League Baseball season, one player, in particular, has been making a lot of noise of late while playing for the surging Houston Astros.
Then there’s another who would be running away with the AL batting championship if he had enough at-bats to qualify. But he’s getting there.
Here’s a look at news about Ohtani, followed by what it would probably take for other candidates to make a charge.
It’s almost hard to believe that Ohtani was available on betting boards at -850 less than three weeks ago.
But a day after news circulated that the Angels were no longer considering a deal for him at the trade deadline, betting sites shortened his odds significantly since it no longer was a possibility of Ohtani making a move to the National League. Some boards jumped that number to -20000 overnight.
Of course, contributing to those shrinking odds was that a day after the news broke, he pitched a complete-game, one-hit shutout in a doubleheader opener at Detroit. He followed with a two-homer game in the nightcap.
Odds for American League Most Valuable Player 2023
|Luis Robert Jr.||White Sox||+8000||+10000|
|Vlad Guerrero Jr.||Blue Jays||+8000||+15000|
Shohei Ohtani’s Odds to Win AL MVP in 2023
Shohei Ohtani, Angels (-10000 on BetMGM, Caesars & BetRivers)
Ohtani, who was the odds-on choice in the preseason to win the award, no longer is the top home run hitter in the majors, but his 41 long balls are 10 more than anyone else has in the AL this season. Plus, he has 84 RBIs.
Should he play in LA’s remaining 43 games, he would be on pace to have 56 homers and 114 RBIs.
What makes that all the more impressive is that he hasn’t had two key slugging teammates to support him in the lineup for much of the season. Three-time MVP Mike Trout has been sidelined since fracturing his left wrist on July 3. Anthony Rendon has missed 76 games.
Then there’s Ohtani’s pitching record. He’s 10-5 with a 11.4 Ks per nine innings, second in the league behind Toronto’s Kevin Gausman. Ohtani’s ERA is 3.17, eighth best in the AL. Plus, over his past three starts covering 19 innings, he hasn’t allowed a earned run.
If there are any blemishes at all, it’s that he’s already surpassed career highs in homers allowed with 18 and has yielded 54 walks.
He’s also had health issues recently. Numerous times, he was hampered by cramps and now will be skipping his next start on the mound because of arm fatigue.
But still, his current stats would warrant getting the MVP unless any of the following players go absolutely berserk at the plate down the home stretch.
Distant Contenders to Win AL MVP in 2023
Kyle Tucker, Astros (+10000 on BetRivers)
Tucker, Houston’s lefty-swinging right fielder, is the most likely of all the longshots to give Ohtani a run for the trophy.
He leads the Astros in all the major offensive categories, including batting average (.297), home runs (22), RBIs (88), and steals (24). And he’s been particularly productive since late June, with fives games of four-plus RBIs.
On Saturday night, he had a dream game with a ninth-inning grand slam in Baltimore that gave the Astros a 7-6 victory. That wallop came against Felix Bautista, who entered that game with an ERA of 0.85 and is tied for the AL lead with 31 saves.
That performance surely is seared into the memory banks of members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, who will be voting on this award.
And, boy, does Tucker hit in the clutch. In 105 at-bats with runners in scoring position, he’s hitting .400. By comparison, Ohtani is batting only .300 in that scenario.
Corey Seager, Rangers (+10000 on BetRivers)
If Texas’ shortstop could have avoided going on the injured list for hamstring and thumb ailments, he’d surely have much shorter odds.
But for now, he remains under the radar because he’s missed 43 games and doesn’t have the qualifying number of at-bats to be listed on many of the MLB stat charts.
If he did qualify, his batting average of .348 would easily be tops in the AL. He also has 20 homers and 68 RBIs for AL West-leading Texas with a staggering OPS of 1.056. Only Ohtani (1.073) has one higher in the majors. No one else in the AL is better than .914.
For the remainder of the season, if he can average 3.2 plate appearances per game, he’ll have the 502 needed to register as the league’s leading hitter and that could sway voters.
Yandy Diaz, Rays (+15000 on DraftKings)
Tampa Bay’s first baseman has certainly blossomed in his seventh MLB season.
He’s hitting a league-best .323 on the charts with an OPS of .914 that trails only Ohtani. And he’s one of six players in the majors with an on-base percentage of better than .400. He’s at .403.
Yet, it’s teammates Wander Franco and Randy Arozarena who have generated many of the headlines. Not all of them are good, in Franco’s case.
What Diaz needs is a big performance in a key game to generate more attention. And it certainly would help if Tampa Bay can overtake Baltimore for the East Division lead and get a first-round playoff bye.
Wander Franco, Rays (+10000 on BetMGM)
Forget about this guy.
It was reported Sunday that Major League Baseball is looking into social media posts made by the Rays’ star shortstop and that he could be placed on the restricted list or on administrative leave. He did not make the trip to San Francisco for this week’s series.
This comes in the aftermath of a midseason benching when he sat out two games for “not being a good teammate.”
That’s too much scar tissue for a player who otherwise might attract voter attention for his WAR of 5.4, second only to you know who in the AL.
American League MVP Odds 2023 FAQ
The New York Yankees’ Babe Ruth hit 60 in 1927 and lost out to teammate Lou Gehrig.