Trout has won the American League MVP three times and arguably should have won it in a couple more seasons. It’s widely accepted that he’s the best player in baseball and the only argument his detractors could make against him in recent seasons was that the Los Angeles Angels weren’t a very good team. That should be different this season. The Angels figure to be a contender since Shohei Ohtani will be able to pitch again and they signed Anthony Rendon in free agency. Assuming the Angels are a good team, there won’t be an argument to be made against Trout winning MVP. Since 2012, he’s been worth 72.7 WAR and no other player is even over 50 WAR. Trout is an a class of his own, so even the +150 odds seem to have value.
If not for the Houston Astros stealing signs, would Aaron Judge have an MVP on his resume? In 2017, he was the runner up to Jose Altuve, a year that now comes with an asterisk. It was Judge’s rookie season with the New York Yankees and he blasted 52 homers while accumulating 8.3 WAR. While we haven’t seen his offense reach those heights since, Judge was become a strong defensive right fielder. We have seen him show the potential to win an MVP; he just needs to get his power numbers back to where they were at in his first season. The presence of Mike Trout makes winning MVP a tough task, but the +1000 odds on Judge aren’t a bad price. With that said, he isn’t my favorite Yankee to bet on.
My favorite Yankee to bet on is Giancarlo Stanton at +3300. Outside of Trout, he has arguably the most offensive upside of any player in baseball. The issue is that he can’t stay on the field. Injuries have plagued Stanton throughout his career and he played in just 18 games last season. If healthy, his power upside is massive. He struggled in his first season with New York and was hurt all of last season. In his last year with the Miami Marlins, Stanton hit 59 homers and won the NL MVP in a pitcher friendly park. The sky is the limit if he stays on the field.
Another former MVP, Josh Donaldson quietly had a strong season for the Atlanta Braves last year. He also got better as the season went along. Coming back from a shoulder injury, Donaldson was good, but not great in the first half. In the second half of the season, he had a 146 wRC+ and hit 19 homers. Not back to full strength, we could see him back in the MVP discussion at +2000 odds. Donaldson is also in a strong spot to rack up counting stats since the Minnesota Twins have a loaded offense.
There are a couple of sophomore studs that warrant consideration as dark horses. Both Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Yordan Alvarez have identical +6600 odds to win the AL MVP. They merit consideration for different reasons.
Going into last season, Vladdy was the consensus top prospect in baseball. To make sure his free agency clock didn’t start early, the Toronto Blue Jays didn’t call him up to the big leagues at the start of the season. Instead, Guerrero tore up AAA for a month before getting called up. Unfortunately, his rookie season ended up being a bit of a letdown. He finished with a 105 wRC+, which was well below expectations. Guerrero still has a ton of latent ability and a breakout season wouldn’t be a shock.
In many ways, Alvarez had the season most analysts thought Guerrero would have. He burst onto the scene for the Astros, hitting 27 homers in just 87 games. Alvarez was without a doubt a difference maker and his 178 wRC+ was amongst the best hitters in baseball. At only 22 years old, there is plenty of reason to think he could take another step forward and light the league on fire. Following the Astros’ scandal, I am a bit wary of any of their hitters and how not knowing pitches could impact performance, but Alavarez has a strong track record dating back to the minor leagues. He hit 23 homers last year in 56 AAA games.
2020 AL MVP odds
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr||+6600|
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