AL MVP: Shohei Ohtani Usurps Aaron Judge as Betting Favorite

Shohei Ohtani

Last Week: Reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani has stormed back to the top of the futures board after another dominant week dealing from the bump. Ohtani threw 6.0 innings of one-run ball, striking out 12 against the AL West-leading Houston Astros. That lowered his earned run average to 2.38 on the season, simultaneously improving his strikeouts per nine innings to 12.7. The two-time All-Star remains tepid at the plate, ending the week with a .313 slugging percentage; still, Ohtani straddles a role that no one else in baseball can. 

This Week: Unfortunately for Ohtani, this season will only represent personal success. The Los Angeles Angels have used a 2-8 stretch to fall 12 games below .500 and 20.0 games out of the division lead. A scorching second half could elevate them in the Wild Card race, but with five teams between the Halos and a Wild Card berth, including two from their division, it will be an uphill battle. Ohtani and the Angels close out the unofficial first half with an unusual two-game weekend set against the Los Angeles Dodgers, and it appears that he’ll head into the break as the betting favorite to repeat as MVP. 

Aaron Judge

Last Week: New York Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge has fallen off his torrid pace, bumping him down the AL MVP list at BetMGM. Judge ended the week with a .707 on-base plus slugging percentage, with two of his four hits going for extra bags, including one home run. At one point, the four-time All-Star was on pace to surpass Roger Maris for the seventh-most home runs in a single season; however, Judge’s 31 dingers through 86 games now pro-rates to 58. 

This Week: The Yankees head into the All-Star break with a weekend series against the Boston Red Sox in the Bronx. The Red Sox have been Judge’s kryptonite this season, compiling a forgettable .621 on-base plus slugging percentage and failing to record a home run in six games. Nevertheless, the MVP discussion continues to center around Ohtani and Judge, with both players heading into the second half with something to prove.

Yordan Alvarez

Last Week: A trip to the injured list hasn’t cost Yordan Alvarez any ground in the MVP race, as he remains third on the board at +1000. The Houston Astros designated hitter played in just one game over the past seven days before being transferred to the IL with a hand injury. Consequently, there was no meaningful change to any of his stats or metrics, although Alvarez remains the MLB leader in on-base plus slugging percentage and has closed the gap on Judge in the home run race. 

This Week: The hand injury will prevent Alvarez from participating in this year’s All-Star Game but affords him extra time to resolve the issue before play resumes on July 21. That means the Houston Astros will have a little less firepower as they try to close out the first half with a series win against the Oakland Athletics. Alvarez has some ground to make up against the most valuable player frontrunners, but he should be at full health to make a push in the second half of the season. 

Mike Trout

Last Week: A back injury limited Mike Trout to just three games this week and could also be the source of his recent downturn. The eight-time Silver Slugger has failed to generate any meaningful offense over the past few weeks, seemingly bottoming out with a .111 slugging percentage over the last week. The back injury may explain the recent loss of power but doesn’t account for the 97 strikeouts Trout has through 79 games. 

This Week: It’s unclear whether Trout will make an appearance for the Angels before the All-Star break, but it does look like he’s making the trek to Dodger Stadium for the festivities. Given what we’ve seen from Trout over the past decade, it would be unwise to write him out of the MVP conversation at the turn, but a lot would have to go right for him to make a legitimate run at the top contenders. 

Rafael Devers

Last Week: Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers remains one of the most consistent hitters this season. The 25-year-old went 4-for-12 at the dish, with one double and one long ball, padding his MLB lead in hits and total bases. His first-half performance has staked Devers to the best slugging percentage of his career, at .595. Moreover, we’ve seen a more disciplined approach from Devers this year, setting a new benchmark with a .383 on-base percentage and a career-low 18.0% strikeout rate. 

This Week: Devers gets to flash his MVP-caliber stuff on the biggest stage as the Red Sox head to Yankee Stadium for a weekend set. The Silver Slugger has tormented his intra-divisional rivals all year, putting together a 1.183 on-base plus slugging percentage against the Yankees, knocking in seven runs and coming around to score four times. There’s an argument that Devers deserves to be further up the futures board, and he’ll continue to deliver until bettors notice.