Can Anybody Catch Shohei Ohtani in the AL MVP Race?

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With baseball’s first month in the books, Shohei Ohtani is on pace to have his best season yet. The former MVP is hitting the ball well and has been the best pitcher in baseball in 2023. Despite having Mike Trout, Ohtani is the biggest reason why the Angels have been able to keep their record above .500. It’s been an incredible start, and there are no signs he is slowing down.

Below we will break down the case for Ohtani to win his second AL MVP, explore the rest of the field, and discuss how Ohtani could lose the award. While sports betting sites have the dual threat as a heavy favorite (+105 at FanDuel sportsbook), the season is young and the AL is stacked with talent. This begs the question: Can anything stop Ohtani?

The Case for Ohatni to Win AL MVP

Shohei Ohtani (4-0, 1.85 ERA) has been the best pitcher in the league this season. He has five quality starts in six appearances and has yet to allow more than three hits in a game. It has been pure dominance, though it has come against some weaker teams. While he had an impressive start against the Red Sox, the others have come against the A’s (twice), Royals, Nationals, and Mariners. We don’t expect those numbers to rise much as he faces better teams, but his career stats have us believing he will continue to roll throughout the season.

Ohtani (.294 BA, 7 HR, 18 RBI, 5 SB) has also been fantastic at the plate. Those numbers are on track to meet his career averages, aside from his stolen bases. Ohtani had just 11 stolen bases last season, but already has five in 2023. If he can keep that up, it will only solidify his status as the AL MVP favorite. One of Ohtani’s most impressive games came last week against the A’s. He gave up some big home runs but went 3-5 at the plate to lead the Angels to victory. No other player in the league can do that, making him the most valuable.

The Rest of the AL MVP Field

Mike Trout (+1000 at FanDuel Sportsbook) 

Fellow Angel Mike Trout (.297 BA, 7 HR, 18 RBI) comes in with the next best odds to win the award. He is a distant second, in part because his impressive numbers at the plate are almost identical to Ohtani. While we expect Trout to have another fantastic season, we don’t see him being able to overcome Ohtani for the AL MVP.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (+1400 at FanDuel Sportsbook)

Guerrero (.311 BA, 5 HR, 17 RBI) owns the third best odds according to FanDuel. The Blue Jays’ first baseman is seeing the ball well and has not shown any signs of slowing down. The Blue Jays have struggled to get going on offense, but the lineup should provide him plenty of RBI opportunities. The biggest issue is his power, as the slugger has seen a dip in his numbers over the last two seasons. It is early, but unless he can get to 40 home runs his MVP odds will likely remain where they are.

Aaron Judge (+1600 at FanDuel Sportsbook) 

Judge (.261 BA, 6 HR, 14 RBI) won the 2022 AL MVP over Ohtani after a historic season where he finished with a .311 average, 62 home runs, and 131 RBIs. It was a monster season that was able to help Judge overcome Ohtani’s dual-threat advantage. However, it doesn’t look like he is poised to repeat. All his numbers are down as the Yankees offense struggles, and now he finds himself on the IL with a hip injury. He could still bounce back, but anything short of last season’s numbers will likely cost him a second consecutive MVP.

How Ohtani can lose the AL MVP

This is Ohtani’s award to lose, and we see two ways that it can happen. The first way Ohtani could lose the MVP is by struggling either on the mound or at the plate. That would take away his advantage over the rest of the field and suddenly make this race much more interesting. The second is a long-term injury. Outside of that, expect to see Shohei Ohtani hoist the award this fall.

Michael is an avid sports fan and a veteran bettor from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. He learned the trade from his grandfather in Las Vegas as a kid. As an adult, Michael started picking games for a small sports betting site and has built it into a career. His experience allows him to provide tips and information to help other bettors improve their game. Michael cheers for all Wisconsin pro teams, the Arizona State Sun Devils (his alma mater), and the Ottawa Senators. He specializes in baseball betting but has extensive experience in football, basketball, and hockey. When he isn’t pouring over stats, he’s spending time with his two young children or hiking and enjoying the outdoors.