MLB betting: Shohei Ohtani, Ronald Acuña Jr. already massive MVP favorites

·4-min read

Nobody wins an MVP award in Major League Baseball by mid-May. Too much can happen, including injuries.

That's why it's a bit shocking to see the MVP odds at BetMGM roughly a quarter into the MLB season.

There are two huge favorites less than two months into the season. In the American League, Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is -110 to win MVP, and everyone else is +1000 or longer. In the National League, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuña Jr. is +150. All others are +900 or longer.

That's a pretty big lead for both, but in both cases, it's justified.

Shohei Ohtani a big favorite for AL MVP

Ohtani jumping out to a big lead is no surprise. Because his pitching and hitting talents are unique in MLB history, he's a leading candidate to win MVP every season that he's healthy. It took Aaron Judge's historic offensive season to beat him last season, but there might not be any stopping Ohtani this year.

Ohtani is having an excellent offensive season, hitting .296 with nine homers and 29 RBI, and is also just behind Gerrit Cole and Shane McClanahan in the Cy Young odds. That says it all. Cole is +400 to win Cy Young, McClanahan is +450, and Ohtani is +550.

Ohtani's teammate Mike Trout is next in the MVP odds at +1000. Toronto Blue Jays first baseman Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is next at +1200. If Ohtani weren't around, they'd be fitting favorites, but it's difficult to compete when Ohtani is close to them in hitting stats and also one of the best pitchers in baseball.

Ohtani theoretically could fall back to the pack. He could be traded to the NL in midseason, though the Angels are above .500, and it would be tough for them to trade Ohtani if they're in playoff contention. Ohtani could also slump in one of two ways, which is a drawback of being a hitter and pitcher. If his ERA gets blown up or his batting average tanks, that would hurt him, though given how good he is at both, that seems unlikely.

At this point, an injury might be all that's stopping Ohtani from winning his second MVP in three seasons. Someone like Trout, Guerrero or Tampa Bay Rays shortstop Wander Franco could be a good value bet in case Ohtani misses time. But it's hard to bet against Ohtani, no matter the odds.

Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is a big favorite to win AL MVP. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is a big favorite to win AL MVP. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

Ronald Acuña Jr. leads NL race

In the NL, there's more of a chance that Acuña loses his grip on MVP. He doesn't pitch, after all.

But Acuña is off to a ridiculous start for a very good Braves team. He leads the league in runs, hits, steals, slugging percentage and OPS (on base percentage plus slugging). Acuña hit another long home run Tuesday, his 10th of the season. A 40-40 season isn't out of the question. He's on pace for about 39 homers and 66 steals. He's having an incredible season, and there's no reason to believe he can't keep up a similar pace. There's no doubting his talent.

Acuña needs to stay healthy, though. He has one MLB season with 120 games played, and that came in 2019. The injury factor opens the door for other players. And because he doesn't have Ohtani's superpowers as a pitcher, he's more susceptible to being caught.

New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso is +900, the second-favorite behind Acuña. He's a good option if Acuña misses time. St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt won the award last year and is off to a good start this season, with odds at +2500 odds. Someone such as Cardinals third baseman Nolan Arenado, who has been red-hot lately and has a track record, could pay off big at +10000 odds.

There's some chance Acuña's numbers come down and others start to catch up. But if Ohtani and Acuña stay healthy, they could keep the favorite spot in the MVP races for most of the season. The races aren't over, of course, but the favorites have a huge lead already.