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MLB: Ohtani favored for back-to-back AL MVP gongs

LA Angels star Shohei Ohtani

Last year, the AL MVP was unlike anyone we have ever seen before. Sure, before there was Shohei Ohtani there was Babe Ruth, but for a player to come into the MLB and not only pitch effectively, but to hit even better, is truly remarkable.

Ohtani entered the MLB in 2018 and was dubbed the ‘Japanese Babe Ruth’ as he looked to be the first player in recent memory to attempt to be a two-way player. Ohtani pitched to a 3.18 ERA last season with 156 strikeouts over 130.1 innings and had a WHIP of 1.09. Ohtani was well above average at pitching, but that wasn’t even his strong suit. Ohtani hit 46 home runs last year and drove in 100 runs. Ohtani’s 2021 campaign at the age of 26 was incredible – perhaps the best season we have ever seen one single player have – and he was duly rewarded the AL MVP award.

The top baseball betting sites are pretty high on Ohtani, who seems to be getting better every year while entering his prime. Ohtani is the favorite to repeat this year, but let’s take a look at the top five players with the best odds to take home the AL MVP honors in 2022.

2022 AL MVP outright odds

  • Shohei Ohtani +390
  • Mike Trout +480
  • Vladamir Guerrero Jr +480
  • Aaron Judge +2000
  • Rafael Devers +2000

All odds courtesy of Bovada

Shohei Ohtani

We all know how great Babe Ruth was, and he had a very similar skillset to Ohtani. The only thing is that Ruth was not doing this kind of damage against pitchers like Ohtani faces today. For as great as Ruth was, he never had to face 95+ miles per hour with movement, and he never had to face hitters like Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, Vladimir Guerrero Jr, or Rafael Devers either. Ohtani faces a loaded AL West and pitched to a 3.18 ERA in over 100 innings.

The sportsbooks have this one right, if there is any player that has a chance to repeat it would be Ohtani. No one else in the league has the ability that he has and for as long as Ohtani is in the league, he should be in the MVP conversation.

Mike Trout

Due to the Angels’ irrelevance and their location on the west coast, Trout has been one of the least talked about superstars in history. There is no player in this conversation as decorated as Trout is however. He is a three-time MVP, nine-time All-Star, eight-time Silver Slugger, and is widely considered the best player in the MLB, so it’s funny that he and Ohtani share the same team. Although the Angels have two of the best players in the sport, they failed to make the playoffs last year. In fact, in Trout’s 10-year career, he has only one post-season appearance where the Angels were knocked out in the first round.

Trout’s career has been one very long example of how baseball is a team game, and one player cannot carry a team to victory. It truly is a shame that the Angels have wasted so many years of Trout’s career, and aren’t projected to make much noise this year either.

In regards to the MVP discussion, +480 odds seem great on the surface, although Trout has only appeared in 89 games since 2019. He will turn 31 this year and after being so durable in the early stages of his career it seems like the injury bug has finally caught up with him. If Trout can stay on the field this year getting him at these odds would be a steal, but the risk is definitely there.

Vladamir Guerrero Jr

The son of one of the best hitters in history exploded last year and was in a head-to-head battle with Ohtani to win the award in 2021. The 23-year old clubbed an MLB best 48 home runs a year ago and had an OPS of 1.002, he was named to his first All-Star game and would’ve won the MVP any other year. All signs point to him being in even better shape and poised for another great year in 2022.

Guerrero will hit in the middle of a loaded Blue Jays lineup that should give the AL East a run for their money this season. Guerrero at +480 is our favorite bet on the board for this year.

Aaron Judge

Judge is still hanging around in the MVP discussion. The Yankees look to be set for a big season and if the Yankees are going to make any noise this year, it will be on the shoulders of Judge. Judge’s contract negotiations have yet again stalled which means he is set to hit free agency at the end of this season. We have all seen players put up big numbers in a contract year and Judge who is entering his age 30 season, will likely get one big payday and that’s it. Judge is a three-time All-Star and has had two top-five finishes in the MVP voting in years past.

The Yankee’s slugger should receive a ton of media attention this year as he is now not only playing for the Yankees, but he is auditioning for the entire MLB. If Judge can add an MVP to his resume, it will significantly increase his asking price which might be a bad thing for the Yankees. Judge at +2000 is our favorite long shot.

Rafael Devers

The Red Sox have a chance to be one of the league’s best teams. In three total seasons under Alex Cora, the Red Sox have won a World Series and came within two games of a second World Series appearance last year. With talent like Devers, newly acquired Trevor Story, Xander Bogarts, and Alex Verdugo, the Red Sox have built quite the team. The Yankees, Blue Jays, and Rays all have World Series expectations but it seems like the Red Sox have fallen by the wayside in that discussion. If the Red Sox make the type of noise that we believe they’re going to make, Devers is going to be the team’s best offensive weapon. Entering his sixth season, Devers is only 25 and has gotten better with each passing year. The slugging third basemen hit .279 with 38 home runs last year and now with Story batting behind him, Devers should get more pitches to hit.

Devers has quietly become one of the league’s top hitters and should only get better as he enters his prime. He will look to lead the Red Sox on yet another post season journey this year but the odds to win MVP still aren’t enough given the others in the conversation.

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