MLB Betting: A.L. MVP Odds and Predictions
by Matt Severance - 3/31/2010
If you read my NL MVP betting predictions article, you saw that only three teams – the Cardinals, Giants and Phillies – had claimed MVP winners in the past decade. That’s in large part due to the dominance of Barry Bonds and then Albert Pujols.
The AL MVP, on the other hand, has gone to seven different team members since 2000. The only common thread is Alex Rodriguez, who has won the award three times – twice with the Yankees and once with the Rangers. And with A-Rod still a bit of a question mark following hip surgery, an average 2009 (for him) and whether the “juice” was responsible for his most of brilliant past numbers, I would argue the AL MVP race is definitely much wider open than the NL.
Believe it or not, though, Rodriguez has opened as the Bodog favorite at 5/1. I can see why that’s the case in some ways, because A-Rod certainly won’t have the off-field drama he had last year with the surgery and steroid revelations, and most people believe he unloaded a giant monkey from his back with a good performance in the playoffs. So if Rodriguez is confident and healthy in the launching pad of Yankee Stadium, he could put up monster numbers in a lineup that has him well-protected. He hit .286 with 30 homers and 100 RBI last season despite missing nearly 40 games. But 5/1 is too low – and I’m not convinced some voters would even vote for Rodriguez because of past transgressions (although one would hope objectivity would reign). I actually like teammate Mark Teixeira better at 7/1.
The second-favorite on Bodog is the reigning AL MVP, Joe Mauer, at 11/2. The new $184 million man won the batting title last year (again) and became just the second catcher since 1976 to win AL MVP honors. Mauer also found his power stroke last year, hitting 28 home runs to go with 96 RBI. The 28 homers were more than double his previous career-best despite the fact he missed the first month of the season. Mauer is a stud, no doubt, but I wonder if the new Target Field will hurt him. The Metrodome was very hitter friendly, and the Twins are going to be playing some cold-weather outdoor games now. Plus, if Mauer doesn’t at least match what he did last year, it will be considered a down year. Thus, I don’t think he’s a good bet.
Here are three guys who are longer shots that are worth a look:
Carl Crawford (20/1): I’ve noted in other baseball preview stories that I believe the Rays are going to be in contention this year. And I think Crawford has a huge season because he is playing for a contract: CC is a free agent after the year and certainly won’t be back in Tampa. The one worry is that he could be traded, and if he goes to an NL team he obviously won’t win AL MVP honors. But Crawford is probably a lock for 100 runs and will steal a ton of bases again. If he can hit 20 homers and knock in 85 (16 and 68 last year), he will be in the running for MVP if the Rays are winning. I would definitely take him at 20/1 over teammate Evan Longoria because Longoria figures to only have better power numbers but Crawford will have better stats overall.
Kendry Morales (50/1): Do you realize this guy hit .306 with 34 homers and 108 RBI last year? He will probably have to improve those numbers this season for the Angels to contend, with Chone Figgins and Vladimir Guerrero now missing from the lineup. And if money is a motivator, Morales will become arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season. This spring Morales is killing the ball, and he’ll play probably 158 games because he is a switch hitter. At 50/1, he’s a steal.
Victor Martinez (50/1): Martinez just saw the contract Mauer got and has to be salivating as he is set to become a free agent after this season. He should be much more comfortable in Boston now that he’s had an entire offseason to get acclimated, and he will get time at DH and first base to save the wear and tear behind the plate. Martinez still managed to hit .336 with eight homers and 41 RBI in 56 games with Boston last year after the trade from Cleveland, so if you average that out for a full season you are talking Mauer-like numbers. Plus, Martinez will benefit from playing in the hype machine that is Boston.
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