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AL MVP race: How MLB season so far has impacted odds

We discuss the AL MVP race after the first month of the 2023 regular season.

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run in the third inning of an MLB game against the Milwaukee Brewers on April 30, 2023 at American Family Field in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Photo by Joe Robbins/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

It’s been a wild first month of the 2023 MLB season, and the chaos has hit the American League particularly hard. Injuries have already impacted stars like Aaron Judge, Yordan Alvarez and Julio Rodriguez — three preseason favorites for AL MVP — while crowded standings have made it hard for any team or player to separate themselves from the pack.

Let’s take a look at the updated AL MVP odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook and see if there’s any non-Ohtani value to be had.

Updated AL MVP odds as of May 1

Shohei Ohtani -105 Mike Trout +550 Adley Rutschman +1100
Aaron Judge +1100 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. +1200 Yordan Alvarez +1700
Wander Franco +2200 Julio Rodriguez +2200 Jose Ramirez +2200
Kyle Tucker +2500 Matt Chapman +2500 Rafael Devers +2800

There’s been some movement in just the last two weeks, but overall things remain pretty static. Ohtani has become an even more overwhelming favorite, paying out less than even money, while Judge’s hip strain (and the general state of the New York Yankees) have slipped him down the board a bit. Bo Bichette has left the picture, while his Toronto Blue Jays teammate Chapman makes his first appearance after continuing to scald the ball.

AL MVP race: Takeaways and best bets

Best bet 1: Shohei Ohtani

Honestly, even at these odds, everything else feels disingenuous. This is partly due to a relatively down start for most of the big contenders, as Judge and Alvarez battle injuries and no AL team outside of the Tampa Bay Rays has really stood out so far. But it’s mostly a testament to Ohtani’s singular brilliance: You could honestly make an MVP case for him just on the mound, where he’s got a 1.85 ERA and 46 strikeouts in 34 innings. He’s probably the favorite to nab the AL Cy Young Award right now, and if he does that on top of his production with the bat — seven homers, five steals and a .897 OPS, no biggie — there’s no argument for anyone else. At this point it’s just a matter of whether he stays healthy.

Best bet 2: Julio Rodriguez, Seattle Mariners

Last year’s AL Rookie of the Year has gotten off to a bit of a slow start and now has to deal with back tightness that’s caused him to miss the last couple of games. But it’ll take something sensational to unseat Ohtani, something like Judge’s 62 homers last year, and so the question bettors should be asking themselves is this: “Who has the highest ceiling of the rest of the field?” The answer there is clearly Rodriguez, who could make a run at a 40/40 season if he gets rolling — he hit 28 homers and 25 steals in 132 games last year, and that was with an abysmal June. It’s not very likely, but at good odds, go with the guy with the most upside.