A Deep Dive On AL MVP Futures

Mark Saxon
Updated: March 25, 2024 2:49 PM

The departure of Shohei Ohtani and the arrival of Juan Soto have shaken up the top of the American League MVP futures market.

Ohtani, the transcendent two-way player, left Anaheim and the AL for nearby Los Angeles, lured by a record $700 million contract.

This time, he’ll have to win the award more traditionally, exclusively with his bat, as September elbow surgery means he won’t pitch in 2024.

Meanwhile, Soto departed San Diego for the New York Yankees as part of a seven-player trade the teams cobbled together in December.

The Yankees are under the gun either to win in the one year in which they have Soto under contract or to re-sign the brilliant 25-year-old slugger.

They are hoping to ride the one-two lefty-righty combination of Soto and Aaron Judge – the two AL MVP frontrunners – to an AL pennant and, they hope, their 27th world championship.

Let’s break down the league’s MVP contenders (as always, be sure to shop around for the best odds on your favorite players on BestOdds):

AL MVP Favorites

That anyone can still grouse about Judge (+550) winning the award two years ago over Ohtani seems absurd.

He played on a far better team, mashed 62 home runs to set the AL record, and posted a staggering 11.6 fWAR.

Still, because he played college baseball and didn’t debut until he was 24, he’s older than many people realize at 31 and his size as he plays the outfield can’t be ignored given that he has had major injury issues in three of his last five seasons.

He’s great and certainly will be a contender if he stays healthy, but we’ll pass at this number.

Soto (+600), however, offers plenty to like here.

ZiPS projects him to lead the AL in WAR and, while you could nitpick by pointing out a strikeout rate that eked up and a walk rate that ticked down, he’ll be playing in a far better offensive environment at Yankee Stadium than Petco Park, particularly for a lefty hitter, and the riches of free agency have rarely been a bad thing to spur a player to perform at his best.

Corey Seager (+1000) is a superb player who hadn’t gotten his due until he posted an eye-popping 6.1 fWAR in just 119 games and then capped it with a remarkable 2023 post-season, but this price seems a bit short for a player who also has had his share of injuries and only has finished top-10 in MVP voting in two of his nine seasons.

Yordan Alvarez (+1100) figures to contend for this award every season and it’s stunning that he still is just 26 years old, but he’s a liability in the field, which means he’s always swimming uphill to some extent.

On the other hand, Julio Rodriguez (+1000), 23, seems accurately priced here given his talent level and tender age.

This is a good ticket to purchase now and, probably, every year for the next decade or so.

AL MVP Longshots

Run, don’t walk, to play Adley Rutschman at +2200 or better (as of press time, FanDuel was offering him at +2500).

His consistency in his first two seasons eclipsing 5.0 WAR is remarkable and, if it’s close, voters figure to give it to the catcher on an excellent young team given his two-way impact.

He might singlehandedly be the explanation for Baltimore’s rise from worst to first.

At this price, we’re not as crazy about Rutschman’s teammate, Gunnar Henderson (+2000), who isn’t a great fielder and likely will yield shortstop to up-and-coming prospect Jackson Holliday before long.

José Ramirez (+2500) and Mike Trout (+2200) figure to contend as long as they stay healthy, but at ages 31 and 32, respectively, these odds seem a bit short.

It’s a shame Trout has played so infrequently in the post-season and has seen his production cut short by injuries in recent seasons.

Ramirez has rarely gotten his due but has had declining production in three straight seasons.

Bobby Witt Jr. (+1600) is intriguing given his age (23) and his improvement in his second season, but he might feel the pressure this season of his new $288.7 million contract extension.

Respect to Marcus Semien (with a massive range of +2200 at FanDuel to +4000 at Caesars Sportsbook) for making himself into one of the best players in the game, but this is a short price on a 33-year old who has finished top 10 just three times in his career.

Rafael Devers (+2800) is fairly priced here given that he gets votes almost every season, but he might get lost on a mediocre team playing in a brutal division filled with MVP candidates.

Bo Bichette is being offered at +3000 at three sportsbooks, including BetMGM, and we love that price on the best overall player (at age 26) on a Toronto Blue Jays team that might surprise people and end up winning a brutally competitive division.

Check out our deep dive on NL MVP futures.

About the author

Mark Saxon was a senior writer for The Athletic covering the St. Louis Cardinals. Mark began his baseball-writing career in 1998 in the growing shadow...

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