Guerrero Jr Closes Gap on Ohtani in AL MVP Odds


Toronto Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr. running the bases

Toronto Blue Jays Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is sent home by third base coach Luis Rivera on a ball hit by Jonathan Davis during the third inning of a baseball game against the Baltimore Orioles, Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, in Buffalo, N.Y. (AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)

  • Vladimir Guerrero Jr continues to see his AL MVP odds shorten
  • Shohei Ohtani remains the comfortable favorite to win the award
  • Read below for an update on the AL MVP race and betting advice

No more than an outsider when the season started, Vladimir Guerrero Jr has played his way into the middle of the American League MVP race. Guerrero’s average AL MVP odds have moved from +3000 a couple of months ago to +425, putting him as the second favorite for the award following Mike Trout’s injury.

Two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani remains atop the board by a good margin, however. Ohtani is making history on a weekly basis. Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, Trout, and Red Sox DH J.D. Martinez sit third, fourth and fifth, respectively, in the odds.

AL MVP Odds

Player Odds at DraftKings
Shohei Ohtani (Angels) +125
Vladimir Guerrero Jr (Blue Jays) +400
Jose Abreu (White Sox) +1500
Aaron Judge (Yankees) +1500
Mike Trout (Angels) +1500
Xander Bogaerts (Red Sox) +1800
J.D. Martinez (Red Sox) +2000
Jose Ramirez (Cleveland) +2000
Byron Buxton (Twins) +2000
Jose Altuve (Astros) +2800
Tim Anderson (White Sox) +2800
Yordan Alvarez (Astros) +2800
Alex Bregman (Astros) +3300
Rafael Devers (Red Sox) +3300
Matt Chapman (Athletics) +4000
Carlos Correa (Astros) +4000
Yoan Moncada (White Sox) +4000
Giancarlo Stanton (Yankees) +4000
DJ LeMahieu (Yankees) +4000
Bo Bichette (Blue Jays) +4500
Anthony Rendon (Angels) +4500

Odds as of May 26.

Guerrero’s Surge

Guerrero’s 203 wRC+ is miles clear of the next best qualified AL hitter. After underwhelming in his first couple of seasons in the Majors, the Blue Jays first baseman is having one of the all-time breakout seasons. There is nothing to suggest this is a fluke either.

It isn’t just raw power and bat-to-ball skills that are making Guerrero such a menace for pitchers. He’s sixth in the AL in walk rate, and only six hitters with a wRC+ over 110 are striking out less frequently. The advanced statistics are every bit as glowing, with Guerrero in the 98th percentile or better in average exit velocity, expected batting average and expected slugging.

Those underlying numbers suggest this performance is here to stay. Unfortunately, the other side of the ball remains a problem. Where Ohtani does it all, Guerrero is a sub-standard first baseman, ranking in the 19th percentile in outs above average.

2021 Cy Young Odds Tracker

Ohtani’s Health

If Ohtani keeps this up for the season, he’s a lock for MVP. Durability, though, is the greatest concern with the two-way superstar. A drastic drop in fastball velocity in a recent start was cause for concern, and while Joe Maddon talked down the issue, it raises a question mark about Ohtani’s health throughout a 162-game season as a two-way player.

The trouble with Guerrero, or anyone else, trying to rival Ohtani is that Ohtani is would be an MVP contender as a hitter alone. He’s sixth in the AL in wRC+ and only Guerrero has more homers.

Then there’s the pitching. Ohtani doesn’t qualify at the moment due to the Angels’ cautious approach and the odd missed start, but he would sit fourth in the AL in ERA+. He would be rivalling the league leaders in strikeout rate.

A 3.83 FIP suggests Ohtani has been a little lucky on the mound to date, but his hitting is legitimate, with an xWOBA in the 91st percentile. For good measure, he also sits in the top four in the league in sprint speed and already has six stolen bases.

Best Bet

Guerrero is a better hitter than Ohtani. Ohtani’s contributions on the mound still leave them tied at 2.8 bWAR apiece, however, and if Ohtani continues to pitch, it’s hard to see how Guerrero wins this award. Betting against Ohtani is a wager against his health rather than his production.

The history being made by the former Rookie of the Year is impossible to overlook, and that will likely be the case for voters, too.

Trout is out of contention with such a lengthy injury. This is a two-horse race as it stands, but one that Ohtani deserves to be heavily favored in.

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Sam Cox

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