Betting on the 2019 AL MVP Race – Odds, Contenders, and Pick
Published on March 22, 2019
Mookie Betts ran away with the 2018 AL MVP Award, receiving 28 of the possible 30 first-place votes.
After such a banner year in Boston, you’d think he’d open the year as the favorite to go back-to-back.
However, that’s not the case when you look at the odds for who will win the 2019 American League MVP.
I’ll get into whether or not I think Mookie will be in the running to win the award again, and I’ll also uncover some other names who offer value at their given price.
You’ll find out my prediction at the bottom of this page, but the first thing to do is check out the pricing at the online sports betting sites.
Mike Trout tops the list of potential candidates and has created some separation between himself and the rest of the pack.
But when you look directly below Trout, you’ll see a host of qualified names who are poised to throw their hat in the ring.
Look at the nine names who follow Trout’s, and you’ll find a common theme. Mike is the only AL player listed among the top-10 MVP candidates who doesn’t play for the Indians, Yankees, Red Sox, or Astros.
That tells you how front-loaded the top teams in the American League are. However, it doesn’t mean an individual outside of the “top 10” can’t capture the award.
I’ll get into the players I’d be targeting to place a bet on, but let’s begin with the guy who just signed the richest contract in the history of professional sports.
Before I answer that question, I’d like to point something out.
Imagine a baseball player finishing first or second in the AL MVP voting during six of his first seven years in the league. And what if I told you the only season in which he didn’t wind up first or second on the MVP ballot was in 2017 when he finished fourth?
In a nutshell, it’s hard to put into words how consistently great Mike Trout is. Perhaps the scariest part for the rest of the league is he actually appears to be getting incrementally better year after year.
For example, take a look at what the Angels centerfielder did in 2018.
Trout set career highs in walks (122), on-base percentage (.460), and OPS (1.088), all statistics in which he led the American League. Mike missed 22 games with inflammation in his right wrist, yet he still found a way to swat 39 homers and steal 24 bases.
To put it simply, there is nothing on the baseball diamond this kid can’t do.
Despite so many other terrific players in the AL, Trout has repeatedly put himself in a position to win the MVP, and 2019 is going to be no different. Add that all up, and I’m more than fine with getting +250 on my money.
After leading the Majors with a .346 batting average and .640 slugging percentage, it’s natural for some to wonder if Mookie can continue his torrid pace.
They’d probably also wonder if it’s natural for a Major League Baseball player to throw a perfect 300 game in the PBA World Series of Bowling or if it’s natural for a multimillionaire to spend three hours feeding the homeless after playing a 3-and-a-half-hour World Series game.
The point is, Mookie Betts isn’t just any baseball player — he’s one of the best outfielders the MLB has seen in decades. So no, I don’t think he has reached his plateau.
I could spend several paragraphs boasting about his dependability at the plate, as it’d be easy to brag about his rare combination of effortless power and blazing speed. But what about the fact that Mookie has won a Gold Glove in each of the last three seasons and is widely considered as the best defending outfielder in the game today?
Here’s a guy who launched 32 homers and stole 30 bases despite being held out for 26 games. It appears that Alex Cora will slide Betts into the second slot in the order, sandwiching him between Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez.
For a guy who already led the Majors in runs scored with 129, that’s some pretty good news.
Jose Ramirez finished third in AL MVP voting in 2017 and 2018, so what’s in store for 2019?
I’ll start with his astounding strikeout-to-walk ratio. Playing in 157 games for the Cleveland Indians last season, Jose walked 106 times compared to being K’d just 80 times. He wasn’t able to maintain the .315 batting average he carried from 2016-2017, but boy, did he make up for it in other areas.
Jose blasted 39 homers and stole 34 bases, both of which were new career highs. Over the past three years, Ramirez has averaged 47 doubles per season, and he’s seen his run total increase from 84 to 107 to 110.
Jose won’t turn 27 until the middle of September, so it shouldn’t surprise anybody that he is seemingly getting better. He’s obviously becoming even more disciplined at the plate, yet somehow his power and speed numbers are both going up.
Predominantly playing third base in Cleveland, Ramirez’s versatility allows him to be moved around the infield, not to mention he hits from both sides of the plate.
I don’t have to speak highly of Jose Ramirez to convince people that he’s a legitimate MVP candidate. All I have to do is unveil his numbers.
They do all the speaking for me.
There are plenty of reasons why one should want to bet on Aaron Judge to win the 2019 AL MVP. Not only is he arguably the most popular player in the game today, but he’s just one year removed from hitting 52 jacks as a rookie.
Judge missed a chunk of time last summer after being hit on the wrist by a pitch, so I’m not too concerned about the drop-off in his production. In fact, “judging” by what Aaron has done thus far throughout spring training, 52 homers might be on the low end of reasonable expectations.
Seriously, Judge has already accounted for 6 homers and 15 RBI in just 34 at-bats! I’m not exactly a math major, but I know that if you multiply that type of production by a full season’s worth of ABs, Barry Bonds’ record of 73 jacks in a year won’t just be in jeopardy; it’ll be old news.
He’s going to have to cut down on his strikeout numbers, and I wouldn’t call him an above-average fielder. But the truth is, he’s the face of Major League Baseball, he plays for the New York Yankees, and people marvel at his 6’7” 282-pound frame.
If this dude hits 50+ homers and the Yankees win the AL East, he’s going to be on the very short list of sincere MVP candidates. The +800 price tag might not be as bad as you think.
I could realistically see any of the men I discussed above take home the 2019 AL MVP, but now it’s time to form a conviction.
I’m looking at the Houston Astros, and I see a team I expect to dominate in their divisional competition. Winning 100+ games and controlling the AL West is exactly what I anticipate the ’Stros doing.
I’m a big fan of George Springer, I love Jose Altuve, and I think Michael Brantley was one of the most important free-agent acquisitions all winter long. But the best baseball player in Houston is Alex Bregman, hands down.
He’ll celebrate his 25th birthday on the first Saturday of the season, and he can play both third base and shortstop. However, being young and adaptable is just the tipping point for how valuable Alex is to the Astros organization.
I want to show you the path he has been on since he entered the Big Leagues in 2016, and you tell me if you see a player on an upward trajectory.
|Alex Bregman – Numbers by the Year|
Even taking his rookie season away, just look at all the positive strides he made from year two to year three. What you see is a budding superstar who is still blossoming and developing his game.
There’s a good chance the Astros end the year with the best record in the American League, and there’s a real possibility that Bregman is among the league leaders in several key hitting statistics.
Backing the best player on the best team at +900 seems like an awfully good idea to me.
Alex Bregman might be my choice to win the 2019 AL MVP, but I’m not against placing a bet on Mookie Betts or Mike Trout as well. I think Jose Ramirez is due for another monster campaign, and Aaron Judge needs to be considered simply because of his raw power and extreme popularity.
If I had to give you a flier, I’ll throw one name out there who shouldn’t be ignored.
Andrew Benintendi could be a sneaky pick to hit 30+ homers and steal 30+ bases. Hitting in front of Mookie and JD means leading the league in runs should be well within the cards. If he can raise his batting average from .290 to somewhere around .310 and cut down on his strikeouts, I could see Benintendi being in the conversation.
With that being said, I’ll still take Alex Bregman at +900 as my favorite bet on the board. And I’ll feel good about my chances of having a serious sweat during the final month of the season.