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Baseball: American League MVP Midseason Outrights

Teams are quickly approaching the midway point of the MLB season and it is a good time to take a look at what players are in the discussion for the American League Most Valuable Player award.

According to the MLB betting lines, Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has surged ahead of Los Angeles Angels teammates Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani, who combined to win the award four times in the last eight seasons.

Baseball: American League MVP Midseason Outrights
MLB.COM

Another player making a charge is Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros while Toronto’s Vlad Guerrero Jr., who finished second to Ohtani in last year’s voting, seems to be one of the players who is severely undervalued.

As the recent injury suffered by National League MVP candidate Bryce Harper shows, all it takes is one pitch or one misstep running the balls or playing in the field to shake up the MVP pecking order.

Here’s a look at the leaders at the current time.

Aaron Judge

  • Team: New York Yankees
  • Age: 30
  • Top 5 MVP finishes: Second in 2017; fourth in 2021

Judge came into the season at +1600 to win the MVP award. It hasn’t taken him long to soar past all the other candidates. He is currently at -115 according to the sportsbook.

Judge leads the majors with 28 home runs as well as 60 runs scored. Keeping Judge healthy has been the issue. Every season when Judge plays more than 145 games, he has finished in the top four in the MVP voting.

If he keeps up his current pace, he would make a run at the Yankees team record of 61 home runs set by Roger Maris during the 1961 season. He currently is listed at -120 to lead the major leagues in home runs.

— New York Yankees (@Yankees) June 27, 2022

A huge key for Judge is his ability to cut back on his strikeouts. When he was the Rookie of the Year in 2017, he struck out 38% of the time. This season, that number has dropped to 28%. That has helped improve the MLB odds for Judge in the MVP race as Judge is trying to become the first player from the Yankees to win the award since Alex Rodriguez in 2007.

Shohei Ohtani

  • Team: Los Angeles Angels
  • Age: 27
  • Top 5 MVP finishes: Named the MVP in 2021

Ohtani is looking to become the first player to win back-to-back American League MVP Awards since Miguel Cabrera accomplished the feat in 2012 and 2013.

Ohtani started the season as the favorite to win the award at +350 and his odds are now at +325 according to the MLB picks.

There comes a time when one has to wonder if the novelty of hitting and pitching will begin to wear off. The reality is that his numbers aren’t worthy of him being the No. 2 choice at the current time.

As a hitter, he is batting .260 with 16 home runs and 47 RBIs. His power numbers are well off the pace he set a season ago when Ohtani hit 46 home runs, drove in 100 runs, and stole 26 bases. At his current rate, he would finish with 34 homers and 100 RBIs. Those are good numbers but not MVP worthy. As a pitcher, he is 6-4 with a 2.90 ERA. Once again, that’s pretty good but not good enough to be the main competition to Judge. His strikeout numbers (90 in 68⅓ innings) might be the only mark that would separate him from other MVP candidates.

Mike Trout

  • Team: Los Angeles Angels
  • Age: 30
  • Top 5 MVP finishes: Named the MVP in 2014, 2016 and 2019. Finished second in 2012, 2013, 2015 and 2018. Finished fourth in 2017 and was fifth in 2020.

Trout could make a run at 50 home runs and 100 RBIs if he stays healthy. While that is a pretty impressive season, Judge would easily finish well ahead of those numbers. Also, the Yankees have the best record in baseball while the Angels are four games under .500.

Trout can put up gaudy numbers in a hurry so it will be worth watching to see if he can pick up the pace in the statistical categories.

Trout came into the season at +400 to win the MVP and those odds have fallen back to +750.

Yordan Alvarez

  • Team: Houston Astros
  • Age: 25
  • Top 5 MVP finishes: None

Alvarez, who turned 25 on Monday, came into the season at +2000 in the MVP race and is now at +1000. That seems too low.

Alvarez is hitting .312 with 22 home runs and 54 RBIs. He is running neck and neck in the OPS numbers among American League hitters. The stigma of being a designated hitter won’t help his cause but that is something that seems to be subsiding in recent years.

Alvarez is leading all American League hitters in batting average (.411), on-base percentage (.494) and slugging percentage (.822) in the month of June.

Like Judge, Alvarez is putting up the numbers for a team atop the division and that should help his cause.

Rafael Devers

  • Team: Boston Red Sox
  • Age: 25
  • Top 5 MVP finishes: None

With three home runs and nine RBIs through the end of April had Devers slipping down the list of MVP candidates. However, since the start of May it has been a different story.

Eleven of Devers’ 25 hits in the month of June have pushed him back into the picture and he is listed at +1200 to win the MVP. Devers has finished 11th and 12th in previous MVP races but with the way he is playing right now, he seems destined to finish in the top 10 for the first time and perhaps even in the top five.

 

Baseball: American League MVP Midseason Outrights
Rafael Devers | Nick Cammett/Getty Images/AFP

Jose Ramirez

  • Team: Cleveland Guardians
  • Age: 29
  • Top 5 MVP finishes: Finished second in 2020. Finished third in 2017 and 2018.

Ramirez is on pace for 149 RBIs, 54 doubles, 38 home runs, and 29 stolen bases to go with a .300 average. That would be good enough to win MVP honors in many years.

Ramirez has been close to winning the MVP before. He hit .310 with 30 doubles and 17 home runs from July through the end of September when he finished third in the 2017 MVP race. A similar surge this season would move him up the standings. He is currently at +1200 in the MVP odds.

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