MLB Betting Predictions: American League MVP Futures Odds
To what should be the surprise of absolutely no one, the American League MVP race is setting up as less of a race and more of a chase. Mike Trout has played only seven full Major League seasons, but he has certainly made the most of that time. He has won the MVP honors twice and has finished second in voting four more times - including last season. The only time he didn't finish in the top two was in 2017 when he missed 48 games due to injury - and he still wound up fourth in voting. He doesn't have to be your favorite player in the AL. However, if you argue that he isn't the best, then you are just plain wrong.
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There is obviously no guarantee he will win, and he has some legitimate challengers, but barring a major setback he'll be in the mix. Here's a look at Trout and his major challengers according to the AL MVP futures odds at BetOnline.
Mike Trout, Angels, +250: The Angels aren't likely to be a particularly dominant team this year, but that isn't going to be an issue for Trout - the team hasn't been nearly up to his standard at any point in his career. He has enough around him to do what he needs to do to put up the big numbers he always does. And it's not like he needs extra motivation, but he has it. With a potential new contract coming up from the Angels or elsewhere soon - one that is going to be stunningly massive - he will be fired up to maximize his performance and show that he is worth what will be a record-crushing deal. Some guys would be weighed down by the pressure of that situation, but at no point has Trout given us the impression that he cares about pressure. He's not the most daring pick, and to tie money up for six months at this kind of price would be a silly thing to do. But he is unquestionably the deserving favorite, and it is tough to find too much fault in this price. If I had to pick just one guy, Trout would be it without hesitation.
Mookie Betts, Red Sox, +600: The defending champion was a very deserving winner last year - I would have voted for Trout, but only by a hair. But the biggest reason to be a doubter of his campaign is just how hard it is to repeat as MVP. Since Roger Maris did in in 1960 and 1961, it has been done just two more times. Frank Thomas pulled off the double in 1992 and 1993, and Miguel Cabrera did it in 2012 and 2013. Like so many guys on top teams, the biggest challenge Betts faces could be differentiating himself from his teammates - a challenge Trout doesn't really face. J.D. Martinez (+1800), Andrew Benintendi (+5000), Xander Bogaerts (+5000), and even Chris Sale (+6600) are all other Red Sox who could put together a season that could split votes. Of that group, it's Bogaerts that stands out to me at the price. It is with no disrespect to the player that Betts is an easy pass here.
Aaron Judge, Yankees, +800: This is an interesting case. It has been a while since we have had a pure slugger win the hardware. You could argue that Cabrera was, but for a guy who makes you sit on the edge of your seat every time he comes to the plate like Judge does you have to go back to Josh Hamilton in 2010 for me. It's not that the rest haven't been great hitters, obviously - they are all more well-rounded and effective in a lot of ways. But there is something about a deep ball. Judge certainly has the profile to get the attention, and he has the ability to crush the ball. He is a streaky guy, but if he can smooth that out a bit, and put up silly numbers, he could get the attention he would need to win here. The price is too low, but he's a factor.
Alex Bregman, Astros, +900: Like Betts, Bregman needs to outshine his ridiculously-deep clubhouse, with Carlos Correa (+1600), 2017 MVP Jose Altuve (+2000), and George Springer (+4000) all fitting the profile of guys who could contend for the hardware as well. As tough as it is to pick one from that group, though, it's Bregman who seems to be on the brightest trajectory, and who could really put up the numbers to push Trout. The advantage Bregman has over the favorite is that the Astros have the chance to be ridiculously good. If Bregman can put up similar numbers to Trout on a team that wins 20 more games, then he could be tough to pass on. If I had to bet on just one guy, it would be here at this price.
Jose Ramirez, Indians, +1600: Ramirez is an absolute freak, and his team should win another division title. His last two years have been incredibly good, and there is no reason to think he will hit a rough patch. Francisco Lindor at +2000 will split some votes, and even though he has been resilient the tiny size of Ramirez is a concern. He has the same birthday as I do, though - the day, though sadly not the year - so that's obviously a boost to his campaign. The price is fair - at least.
Byron Buxton, Twins, +5000: Buxton isn't going to win the award, but you need a long shot, and this is an interesting enough one. The former mega-prospect has clearly been a disappointment with the Twins so far. The talent is there, though, and one day it could click. Despite having been on the radar for a long time, he is only 25-years-old, so he's just climbing into his prime. What's striking, though, is the change in his body this year. When you see him on the field this spring, it's like he is a totally different guy. He's jacked. If that commitment to his body was accompanied by a commitment to his game, we could see a breakout season. Stranger things have happened - Christian Yelich won the NL MVP last year, for example.
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