As we patiently wait for the MLB season to begin, we take a look at the top of the betting odds boards for the 2020 AL and NL MVP awards, break down the favorites and bring you some of our best value bets.
ODDS TO WIN AL MVP
|Players||Odds to win AL MVP (as of March 23)|
Mike Trout +125
Trout is the best player in the game and has already won three AL MVP awards despite being just 28 years old. Trout is coming off a season where he had 45 home runs, 104 RBI, 110 runs and an on base percentage of .438 in just 134 games. He has now either won or been the runner-up for the league MVP award in seven of the last eight seasons (and he finished fourth in the other year).
The Angels might finally be good enough to return to the postseason for the first time since 2014 and the addition of Anthony Rendon should give Trout protection in the lineup. Even so, having him at a +125 favorite before the season even begins is absolutely wild. There has got be better value on the board.
Gleyber Torres +1,200
Torres is soaring up odds boards and has pulled even with teammate Aaron Judge who was the AL MVP runner-up in 2017. It seems weird to say about a guy that is coming off a 38 home run campaign but the 23-year-old Venezuelen looks primed for a breakout year.
Torres absolutely tore it up in the postseason, jacking three homers and five doubles in nine games. He needs to become more patient at the plate and cut down on his strikeouts but the sky is the limit for Torres and batting third behind Judge and DJ LeMahieu and in front of Giancarlo Stanton (who is just three years removed from his own MVP award) should do wonders.
BEST VALUE BET
Marcus Semien +3,000
Semien has improved in every year with the A’s culminating in a 2019 season which saw him finish third for the AL MVP Award after clubbing 33 home runs and 43 doubles while scoring 123 runs and posting a WAR of 8.1, fourth-best in the majors.
Semien really excelled down the stretch last season. Over the months of August and September he slashed .313/.398/.645 with 16 homers, 16 doubles, 40 RBI and 43 runs in 52 games. He has also vastly improved his defense going from one of the worst fielding shortstops in the majors to a Gold Glove candidate that finished third in the league in the SABR Defensive Index among shortstops in 2019 .
The A’s should be pretty good once again this year and the rest of the world will be rooting for them to topple the Astros in the AL West. To top it all off Semien is set to be a free agent after the 2020 season and we all know how motivating a contract year can be.
ODDS TO WIN NL MVP
|Player||Odds to win NL MVP (as of March 23)|
|Ronald Acuna Jr||+550|
|Fernando Tatis Jr||+1,000|
Ronald Acuna Jr. +550
Acuna has one of the sweetest swings in baseball and hit .280 while drilling 41 homers and stealing 37 bases as a 21-year-old last season. He could be in for an even bigger year and the Braves should be in for another strong season.
The NL MVP looks like it will be a wide-open battle between a slew of baseball’s top superstars and being able to wager on the favorite at +550 is certainly solid value.
Mookie Betts +600
One of the biggest offseason moves was Betts being traded from the Red Sox to the Dodgers in February. As soon as Betts was traded to L.A. he moved from being a strong MVP favorite in the range of +1000 to one of the top leading candidates in the NL. At some books he is now the betting favorite with odds as high as +350.
One of the best five-tool players in the majors, Betts won the AL MVP in 2018 after leading the AL in batting average (.346), slugging (.640) and runs (129). He once again led the league in runs last season with 132 while batting .295 and hitting 29 home runs. Betts should have plenty of protection with this Dodgers lineup, although his Red Sox teammates like Rafael Devers, Xander Bogaerts and J.D Martinez weren’t exactly chopped liver.
That said, Betts and the Dodgers will have sky-high expectations and it might be difficult for him to show his impact on the team when they’re coming off a 106-win season without him. Also, there can be an adjustment period while players get used to a new environment and the postponed season certainly doesn’t help that.
BEST VALUE BET
Cody Bellinger +900
Bellinger had a simply amazing season in 2019, leading the majors with a WAR of 9 in just his third season in the majors. He batted .305 with 47 dingers, 115 RBI and 121 runs and also impressed in the outfield picking up his first Gold Glove thanks to a .990 fielding percentage and ten assists from right field. He’s still just 24 years old and just starting to tap into his vast potential.
As we mentioned above, the Dodgers should have another terrific season and being able to grab the reigning MVP in the prime of his career at +900 is an absolute steal.
UNDERSTANDING MLB MVP ODDS
Most sportsbooks will display odds in the American format as listed above. When Trout ran away with the MVP award in 2019 his odds had a minus (-) sign ahead of the number for a large part of the season.
- Mike Trout -1,000
That means that a bettor in August had to wager $1000 to win $100 by betting on Trout to win MVP. Although this year’s race hasn’t even begun yet, some books already have Trout with odds as high as -125.
- Ronald Acuna +550
With Acuna’s current odds, a bettor stands to profit $550 for every $100 wagered on him.
If American odds aren’t your thing, simply use a tool like our odds converter to switch the odds to decimal or fractional format. Most online sportsbooks also give you the option to change the odds format that you see.
HOW TO BET FUTURES ODDS
Futures betting is different than betting on an individual game because you need to consider the long haul as opposed to a single event. Here are a few tips to keep in mind when betting futures odds.
Change your strategy at different points in the season
While some futures bets must be placed before the season begins and are then removed off the board (such as team win totals), other wagers will change odds as the season goes on.
If you are wagering money on a futures bet with changing odds keep in mind that there is less variance at the beginning of the season (when more players and teams are still in contention) and more variance as the season goes on (when teams and players at the top separate themselves from those at the bottom).
In the preseason and beginning of the season, betting on dark horses can prove very profitable. But as the season continues, expect to see odds tighten around the favorites. At that point it becomes wise to focus on the players near the top of the odds board and betting big underdogs is practically like giving your money away.
Look for value with underdogs
While the bigger names tend to be strong favorites, there are also live long shots that can provide tremendous value. Look at younger players on the verge of breaking out, or guys that have already been playing at a high level but could take the next step now that they are in an ideal situation with a new team, coach or system.
Other players that can give a great payout are established stars coming off under-performing years due to injuries or other factors. If you’re lucky you might be able to catch them in a bounce-back year.
Follow the narrative
When placing futures bets on individual awards, keep in mind that voters, not a scoreboard are often the deciding factor. Voters can be influenced by a variety of factors, including media coverage and public opinion. Consider what the media narrative is for a particular season and which players they seem to be rooting for and against.
For example in Lebron James’ first season in Miami he was viewed as a villain or heel by the media and Derrick Rose who ended up winning MVP was the perfect foil for that. When Ron Dayne won the Heisman trophy back in 1999 it was viewed by many as a well-deserved reward for his entire career at Wisconsin.
Research historical trends
Historical trends, especially recent ones, can give you a good idea of which way voters tend to lean.
The NBA MVP for example, almost always goes to a player on the best or second-best regular season team in the league. While the Heisman trophy is almost exclusively given to a quarterback or running back – and over the last couple of decades has been overwhelmingly handed out to QBs.
Identifying those trends is a good way to separate the true contenders from the pretenders.