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JD Martinez, Vlad Jr. see biggest rise in AL MVP race after first month of MLB season

We look at line movement on DraftKings Sportsbook for American League MVP at the beginning of May.

 Toronto Blue Jays infielder Vladimir Guerrero Jr. celebrates after defeating the Washington Nationals at TD Ballpark. Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Through one month of the MLB season, a handful of players have separated themselves as bona fide AL MVP candidates. There are some surprises, especially for those who left J.D. Martinez for dead after his lackluster 2020. But the name at the top of the MVP odds table remains the same: Mike Trout.

Let’s dive into these AL MVP odds from DraftKings Sportsbook and highlight where the value lies.

Trout, a three-time MVP and a three-time MVP runner-up, has achieved just about every regular-season superlative you can think of with the Los Angeles Angels. And yet, we just saw the best month of his career. He put up an incredible .425/.523/.781 slash line. He leads MLB with a 253 OPS+ —meaning he’s about 150% better than the average MLB hitter. That’s why his current MVP odds mirror his preseason line at +200, the smallest number on the board.

Despite Trout’s April, Minnesota Twins OF Byron Buxton earned AL Player of the Month honors as he hit .426 with eight homers in 18 games. That complements his always-sterling outfield defense. Baseball fans have yearned for a healthy season from Buxton, who has played in at least 100 games only once in his first six seasons. We seem to be getting it now, and he has not disappointed. His MVP odds have made a big jump, from +2000 to +1200.

Toronto Blue Jays 3B Vladimir Guerrero Jr. was listed at +3000 in March and is now tied with Buxton at +1200. Vladdy has always hit balls with authority, but with a little more loft in his swing, Guerrero is sending more pitches out of the yard. His seven home runs are almost halfway to his 2019 career high of 15. But I still wouldn’t invest in Vlad or J.D. Martinez, both of whom would need to have unique, historic seasons at the plate to justify an MVP award because of their lack of defensive value. Granted, the 33-year-old Martinez has proven there is plenty of life left in his bat. He has a 1.144 OPS and his MVP odds have rocketed from +5000 to +2500.

But my favorite bet — not to bury the lede — remains Angels DH/SP Shohei Ohtani, who has moved from +1200 to +900. I touted his case before Opening Day, and if anything, he has exceeded expectations. If Ohtani was simply going to hit 30 homers and steal 30 bases — he’s on pace to do that — then he’d be a great player. But while doing that, he has also been an above-average pitcher with 23 K’s and a 3.29 ERA in 13.2 innings. That’s not a huge sample, but if things stay on their current track, we will be witnesses to one of the most special seasons in the past century of baseball. I think the fascination factor surrounding Ohtani only helps his MVP case. As long as the Angels are competitive in the AL West, it would not be shocking to see MLB’s renaissance man take home the award. I’m all-in at +900.

AL MVP Award Odds Movement

Player Opening Current
Player Opening Current
Mike Trout +200 +200
Shohei Ohtani +1200 +900
Byron Buxton +2000 +1200
Vladimir Guerrero Jr +3000 +1200
Jose Ramirez +1800 +1400
Aaron Judge +1800 +2200
J.D. Martinez +5000 +2500

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