Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, center, greets teammate Mike Trout, right, while Seattle Mariners catcher Luis Torrens looks on after Ohtani hit a solo home run during the third inning of a baseball game Friday, April 30, 2021, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
- AL MVP favorite Mike Trout will miss almost two months due to injury
- His MVP odds have faded three-fold, opening the door for teammate Shohei Ohtani
- See how the odds have moved and where they are likely to go from here
It’s been a foregone conclusion for the past six years that Mike Trout would open as a massive AL MVP favorite. Six weeks into 2021, Trout was not disappointing. He was slashing .333/.466/.624 with a league-leading 1.090 OPS, eight home runs, and 18 RBI.
But much like in 2017, his MVP candidacy has been decimated due to injury. The three-time AL MVP will miss the next six to eight weeks with a calf strain. The former favorite has faded badly, and not-so-coincidentally, it’s one of his teammates who has received the biggest boost in the odds.
AL MVP Odds
|Player (Team)||Odds at DraftKings|
|Shohei Ohtani (LAA)||+150|
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr (TOR)||+850|
|Mike Trout (LAA)||+1100|
|JD Martinez (BOS)||+1300|
|Aaron Judge (NYY)||+1400|
|Jose Ramirez (CLE)||+1400|
|Giancarlo Stanton (NYY)||+1400|
|Xander Bogaerts (BOS)||+2000|
|Byron Buxton (MIN)||+2000|
|Jose Abreu (CHW)||+2200|
|Jose Altuve (HOU)||+3300|
|Tim Anderson (CHW)||+3300|
|Alex Bregman (HOU)||+3300|
|Matt Chapman (OAK)||+3300|
|Rafael Devers (BOS)||+3300|
|Yoan Moncada (CHW)||+3300|
|Yordan Alvarez (HOU)||+3300|
|DJ LeMahieu (NYY)||+3300|
|Bo Bichette (TOR)||+4000|
|Carlos Correa (HOU)||+4000|
|Anthony Rendon (LAA)||+4000|
Odds as of May 19, 2021.
Trout left Tuesday’s game against Cleveland after the first inning. He appeared to strain his calf jogging from second to third base on a pop-up.
Regardless of how it happened, the fact is he will miss nearly two months recovering. The best-case scenario – a six-week absence – would mean Trout will miss roughly 40 games of the 162-game season.
The question bettors need to ask themselves is whether oddsmakers have faded Trout too much.
It’s eerie how this season could wind up mirroring his 2017 campaign, when he was limited to just 113 games due to a torn ligament in his thumb. He missed 49 games that year and, despite leading the AL in OBP, slugging, OPS, OPS+, and walks, he finished a distant fourth in MVP voting.
It didn’t help his candidacy that he had won two of the last three awards, including the year prior. Voters were ready for change.
2021 Cy Young Odds Tracker
Ohtani’s Time to Shine
I was personally against betting on Ohtani to win MVP up to this point for two main reasons: (1) it’s rare for the MVP award to go to a player on a bad team and the LA Angels (18-23) are a bad team; (2) it’s even more rare for the the MVP to go to a team’s second-best player.
As long as Ohtani was being juxtaposed with Trout, it was going to be very difficult to craft a convincing MVP narrative. “But, but, but, he led his team to a fifth-place finish in the AL West with the help of the best player in baseball history!”
The Trout injury alters the landscape. Anthony Rendon is not having a stellar season (.273/.345/.416) and his missed time himself. Ohtani is now the undisputed man in a big Los Angeles market.
He also gets a huge boost from being an ultra-rare two-way player. Ohtani leads the league in both slugging percentage (.632), home runs (14), and is tied with Byron Buxton in WAR (2.7).
On the mound, he’s been highly effective. He has a sterling 2.10 ERA through five starts (25.2 innings). He’s struggling with walks (20) and has a surprisingly inflated 1.208 WHIP, but as long as he’s keeping runs off the board, his added value as a pitcher is going to give his MVP resume a massive and unique boost.
The problem for bettors is that Ohtani didn’t just slide into the favorite role by a nose. His odds have shortened precipitously to +138, on average. That’s far shorter than Trout’s odds were. To be a good bet at +138 odds, he needs to have roughly a 43% chance to win the award.
The season is barely one-quarter finished. The Angels have 121 games to play. Ohtani is not so far ahead of the pack that he deserves to have +138 odds. That’s especially true in light of his injury history.
I’m not betting on Ohtani at the current price.
Sascha was a hockey player in his youth, a lawyer in his capricious mid-20s, and has now been an assigning editor, writer, and lead oddsmaker for SBD for over five years. He covers everything you can possibly put odds on, but specializes in football, baseball, hockey, and basketball.