Yordan Alvarez For AL MVP

Conversations regarding the American League MVP have focused on two players – Angels pitcher/DH Shohei Ohtani and Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. Both are having stellar seasons, but a third player should be leading the conversation — Houston Astros outfielder/DH Yordan Alvarez.

That is not to say that Judge and Ohtani are not outstanding players because they are. However, if you look at how well all three are playing and their relative impact, Alvarez is the most deserving of MVP honors.

While Alvarez is currently on the injured list with a sore hand, his numbers still stand out the most in the league. If the injury is short term as the Astros staff predicts, he’ll continue to add to those gaudy stats.

Betting Odds at Most Sportsbooks Favor Judge, Ohtani

Judge stands alone atop most oddsboards with odds ranging from -120 to +100. That gives him a 50-54.55% chance of winning AL MVP. With how he’s been playing, it is not hard to understand why his odds are as short as they are.

However, Judge is somewhat of a one-trick pony. His case for AL MVP revolves primarily around home runs.

Yes, he leads the AL in home runs with 30 (through 80 games) and is on track for a rare 60-plus home run season. But he doesn’t stand out in any other way.

Ohtani’s odds range from +200 to +225 giving him a 30.77-33.33% chance to win AL MVP. However, his case relies on him continuing to be a dual-threat.

If you look at Ohtani as just a pitcher, he ranks as one of the best, but is not having an award-worthy season. However, when you combine his contributions on the mound (2.44 ERA, 111 strikeouts) with those at the plate (.257, 18 home runs, 53 RBI), he stands out.

But is Ohtani the most outstanding player in the AL? The jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none is in the top three, but he’s not No. 1.

Why Sportsbooks Should Favor Yordan Alvarez

From a statistical perspective, Alvarez is having a better season than Judge in almost every way. Alvarez is hitting better than Judge (.312 to .287), has a higher slugging percentage (.665 to .627), and leads the AL with a 1.076 OPS and 4.2 WAR. Judge has a .993 OPS and 3.7 WAR. The only thing he has going for him over Alvarez is home runs; he’s hit 30 while Alvarez has gone deep 26 times.

Otherwise, Alvarez is a shade better than Judge in most relevant statistical categories. He even ranks better than Judge in the field with a -.2 dWAR; Judge has a -.4 dWAR.

Why Don’t the Betting Odds Favor Alvarez?

While the opening odds reflect how a player has performed and is expected to. But once sportsbooks set them, how the public bets is the biggest factor.

Judge is a more well-known player on arguably the most famous franchise in baseball, and people love home runs. He will garner more attention than a relatively unknown player that plays for a team many still hate. So, as Judge’s home run total climbs, more people are bound to bet on him to win AL MVP. As they bet, his AL MVP odds move accordingly.

Alvarez probably is not well-known outside of Texas. He made his MLB debut in 2019 and played two games in 2020. Last season he played in 144 and hit .277 with 33 home runs. His numbers were respectable, but not impressive enough to make fans outside of Houston’s fanbase take notice.

However, his contributions are getting the attention of bettors. When the season got underway, his odds of winning AL MVP were +2500 at BetMGM. As of Friday afternoon (July 8), they were +600. His chances have improved from 3.85% to 14.29%. That’s still low, but that means it may be time for bettors in Texas to take a hop over the border into Louisiana and put a little money down.

If he continues to play as he has, the voters will start seeing what many bettors already have.

AP Photo/Eric Christian Smith

About the Author

Travis Pulver

Travis Pulver is a lifelong football fan, something he says comes naturally having been born in the football-crazy state of Texas. Through the years, his love of sports has extended into baseball, basketball, golf, and rugby. Life currently finds him in Indiana with his wife and two kids.