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AL MVP race: How MLB season so far has impacted odds

We discuss the AL MVP race after the second month of the 2023 regular season.

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels celebrates in the dugout after hitting his second two-run home run of the game in the fourth inning against the Chicago White Sox at Guaranteed Rate Field on May 31, 2023 in Chicago, Illinois. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

Hard as it is to believe, we’re now two full months through the 2023 MLB season. The sample size is a bit bigger now, meaning we can say with a bit more confidence which breakouts are for real and which slow starts may not be much of a fluke after all. The landscape has shifted quite a bit over the past few weeks — Aaron Judge has returned from the IL with a vengeance, the Texas Rangers’ entire lineup is set to smash some offensive records, the Tampa Bay Rays have hit a bit of a lull and Shohei Ohtani ... well, he continues to do Shohei Ohtani things — and the awards race markets have responded accordingly.

So, just like we did at the beginning of May, let’s celebrate the start of June with a look at how the past month has impacted the AL MVP odds over at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Updated AL MVP odds as of June 1

Shohei Ohtani, -150 Aaron Judge +400 Yordan Alvarez +2000
Mike Trout, +2500 Wander Franco +3000 Vladimir Guerrero Jr. +3000
Randy Arozarena, +3000 Adley Rutschman, +3000 Yandy Diaz, +3500
Bo Bichette, +3500 Rafael Devers, +3500 Marcus Semien, +4000

Unsurprisingly, there’s Ohtani, and then there’s everyone else. It’s a testament to how stupid-good Judge has been since he returned from the IL in mid-May that he’s even in spitting distance right now, but even still, it feels like the emotional case has shifted to Ohtani after Judge beat him out last season.

Outside of those two, there’s a dearth of compelling candidates. Wander Franco and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. are both scuffling a bit of late, while much of Adley Rutschman’s value is predicated on his defense — something that doesn’t show up as easily in a box score. Bichette lacks the power numbers typically associated with an MVP, while the Rays could split their vote among a handful of worthy candidates. It’s a race that’s begging for someone else to put together a hot month and stake their claim.

AL MVP race: Best bets

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels

Look, the contrarian in me was desperate to come up with some sort of argument against Ohtani as the overwhelming favorite, but it can’t be done. With two more homers on Wednesday afternoon, the Angels star is up to a .269/.345/.538 line with 15 dingers, seven steals and 38 RBI — all while leading the league in strikeouts on the mound and putting together a very compelling case for AL Cy Young. Narratively speaking, it feels like Aaron Judge’s quest for 62 homers was the only thing that denied Ohtani last year, and everyone is desperate to finally give this generational talent his first real hardware. -150 is somehow probably underselling his odds of taking this home as long as he avoids injury.

Yordan Alvarez, Houston Astros

If Ohtani does get hurt — perish the thought — Judge would obviously be the favorite, but his short odds have me favoring Alvarez as the best bet of the rest of the field. As remarkable as Judge and his recent homer barrage have been, I don’t think there’s a huge talent gap between he and the Astros star, certainly not one big enough to justify this odds disparity. Alvarez may very well edge Judge in most statistical categories, while Houston is looking the part of a true contender now that they’ve started to get healthy.