The 2020 MLB season began July 23, although given what has transpired just within the baseball world since that point, it feels like it’s been a longer haul. That’s primarily due to a rash of team-centered COVID-19 outbreaks that at times seemed to threaten the viability of completing the season. To MLB’s credit, perseverance has won out, and all 30 teams continue on the path to playing 60 regular-season contests by Sept. 27.
The MVP leaderboard at major sportsbooks has naturally changed quite a bit since the start of the season. We’ve had the usual array of both surprising and disappointing individual performances, just as with any other season. With the trade deadline now in the books and the conclusion of the 60-game sprint unbelievably already fast approaching, players don’t have much time left to make a case for their MVP candidacy.
On this page, we look at the betting favorites and best longshot bets to win both the AL and NL MVP awards this season. Be sure to check the disclaimers at your sportsbook of choice. FanDuel Sportsbook states all teams must play 30-plus games for bets to stand..
MLB MVP odds
MLB Favorites and longshots (FanDuel odds)
Shane Bieber, CLE (+500): Bieber wasn’t exactly a household MVP candidate at the start of the season despite an impressive first two years. However, the hard-throwing right-hander is now leading the pack in the AL while profiling as nearly unhittable. Bieber has the wins (six in eight starts), ERA (1.20), WHIP (0.82) and absurd strikeout rate (42.4 percent) to wow voters. Naturally, it also doesn’t hurt that his Indians are 23-14 and sitting in first place in the AL Central with 23 games left in the regular season as of Sept. 3.
Jose Abreu, CWS (+550): Abreu certainly has the track record and power to compete for an MVP in any given year, but he’s been particularly effective during the abbreviated campaign. The veteran slugger carries a .313/.357/.626 slash with 10 doubles, 12 home runs and 32 RBI as of Sept. 3, and the ChiSox figure to remain contenders down to the wire.
Mike Trout, LAA (+650): It’s certainly not that Trout isn’t providing strong numbers, but given the extremely high standard he’s set for himself over his storied career, some of them aren’t sufficiently up to par to place him at the head of the field at the moment. The prodigious slugger’s .268 average and .359 on-base percentage currently qualify as his lowest since his rookie 2011 season, even as his .602 slugging percentage is elite. Trout has largely generated the latter figure on the strength of 12 homers across 32 games, and if he continues to leave the park at that clip while cutting down a career-high 26.2 percent strikeout rate, he could certainly be as strong a contender as any by season’s end.
Anthony Rendon, LAA (+1300): The $245 million deal the Angels doled out to Rendon implies they expect him to be in the MVP conversation every season. A slightly delayed start due to an oblique injury and a dip in power production currently has him facing some longish odds, but Rendon certainly has the bat to go on a long-ball heater that could shoot him up the ranks at any point over the remaining three-plus weeks of the season. As it stands on Sept. 3, Rendon’s .291/.435/.500 season line is certainly impressive, but he’ll likely need a serious boost to his six homers and 19 RBI to compete.
Aaron Judge, NYY (+4000): Judge would have been highly unlikely to be carrying such a high number were he healthy. However, in a season where players have nearly zero margin for missing time and still putting together MVP-worthy numbers, Judge has been tripped up by the injury bug in fairly serious fashion. A calf injury has already led to two separate injured-list stints, including a current one that projects to keep him out until at least Sept. 18. Even if Judge is able to meet that timeline, it means he’ll have just over a week to build on the impressive .292/.343/.738 slash with nine homers and 20 RBI he’d already amassed over 18 games. Given his very appealing price and ability to put up stellar numbers over a condensed period, however, it’s not necessarily out of the question to take a flyer on a player of his caliber.
Fernando Tatis, Jr. SDP (+210): Tatis’ vast talent and upside was no secret coming into the season, but the 21-year-old has arguably managed to exceed expectations. Tatis’ .313/.395/.660 line through his first 37 games oozes MVP buzz, especially when considering it’s partly comprised of 23 extra-base hits (eight doubles, two triples, 13 homers) and 33 RBI. Tatis even has seven stolen bases for good measure, while his Padres squad is one of the surprises of the shortened season with a 23-15 mark as of Sept. 3 and a postseason berth essentially guaranteed in this year’s expanded field. Barring injury, the ultra-talented shortstop should be no lower than the top 3 at season’s end if he keeps up his current pace of production.
Mookie Betts, BOS (+550): Much like Rendon in the AL, Betts has the weight of an eye-popping contract on his shoulders. The Dodgers’ $365 million-dollar man isn’t disappointing by any stretch, but he’s still behind the statistical pace set by Tatis. Betts carries a .296/.381/.600 line with 19 XBH (incl. 11 homers) and 26 RBI across 35 games, and he’s also swiped six bags. L.A. has largely lived up to its hype by posting the best record in baseball (28-10) through Sept. 3, so Betts should have the team-related rub to go off of in his bid to surpass Tatis down the stretch.
Juan Soto, WAS (+1800): A false positive COVID test debacle derailed the start of Soto’s season, but the 21-year-old has made up for lost time at a pace that makes him one of the most appealing longshots in either the AL or NL MVP market. Soto is now slashing .355/.444/.774 with 11 homers and 25 RBI in just 25 games as of Sept. 3. That pace would be unsustainable, even for a player of Soto’s caliber, over a 162-game season. However, in the case of 2020, he just needs to keep it up for another three-plus weeks and he may find himself taking home the first of what could be multiple MVP awards during his career. Given the wood Soto is consistently putting on the ball – he currently boasts an elite 55.7 percent hard-contact rate – that may just come to pass.
Charlie Blackmon, COL (+2500): Blackmon was leading the field at one point in August. A 4-for-33 slump over the 10 games he played between Aug. 22 and Sept. 1 brought his average from .417 to .346, but coupled with a .396 OBP and .500 slugging percentage, Blackmon is still putting up elite numbers. Working against him compared to some of the other contenders is that his power has taken a dip (four home runs across 149 plate appearances), although Blackmon’s .330/.396/.524 slash with runners in scoring position have helped lead to an impressive 28 RBI across 35 games.
Christian Yelich, MIL (+4200): Yelich would have likely garnered a second straight NL MVP in 2019 had a fractured kneecap not curtailed his season. His quest to atone for that near miss in 2020 was derailed by an atrocious start to his season that didn’t see him vault over the Mendoza Line until Aug. 19. Yelich is still frequently decimating the ball when he makes contact, as evidenced by a 53.2 percent hard-contact rate. However, he’s connecting a lot less frequently, striking out at a career-high 29.6 percent clip and then generating an anemic .229 average on the balls he does put in play. That’s a bad recipe that’s now played out over a sizable-enough sample (142 plate appearances) to lend credence to the notion even a trademark Yelich tear can’t get his metrics to where they need to be.
How to bet on the MVP
MVP futures are a great way to stay invested in your favorite players all season long, whether they play for rival teams or on teams not expected to have much success in 2020. As mentioned above, the best time to bet most players is at the start of the season, before they can begin racking up statistical merits.
Odds are based on past production and accomplishments while factoring in 2020 projections and public betting action. Knowing which longshots to back ahead of player and team breakouts is a must for getting the best value. The odds will be updated regularly throughout the season, and they’ll become more or less profitable according to their in-season success or lack thereof.
As seen below with the recent MVP winners in both the AL and NL, the winner generally comes from the top group of favorites. This is especially true in the American League, where the award has gone through Angels OF Mike Trout the last six years. He entered last season with ridiculously low +125 odds to win, and he did so, despite the Angels finishing just 72-90 and fourth in the AL West. A $100 bet on him to win AL MVP before last season would have returned a profit of $125.
Brewers OF Christian Yelich, who won the NL award in 2018, illustrates the value available if a breakout season can be predicted. He led his new team to the postseason for the first time since 2011 while hitting 36 home runs and stealing 22 bases.
Value can also be found in placing bets at the right time during the regular season. Back a favorite whose odds have increased amid a poor start to the season for either himself or his team. If the star player on a fringe playoff team goes down to injury at any point, it’s a good play to immediately bet the second-best player on that team, as he will then receive the credit if the team stays in the playoff hunt.
Where can I bet on the MLB MVP Award?
All legal sportsbooks in the US offer a wide-array of MLB futures bets, including DraftKings Sportsbook, FanDuel Sportsbook, and PointsBet. These can be found under the primary MLB/Baseball tab at all online books and then under the drop-down menu for MLB Futures and Player Futures or Awards.
Once the MVP award odds have been selected, a list of all available betting options will display the players your book of choice deems to have a chance at winning the MVP in their respective league. At the beginning of the season, all available options will be offered at plus-money (usually ranging from Trout’s +125 to Oakland Athletics OF Stephen Piscotty’s +30000 odds last year).
The available options will be updated and potentially changed throughout the season. Surprising risers will be added to the available options once they’ve emerged as a viable candidate and injured or struggling players may even be dropped from the selections altogether.
How the MVP award is decided
The MVP of both leagues is voted on each year by the Baseball Writers’ Association of American. The group is made up of baseball writers for daily newspapers, magazines and qualifying websites. Two writers from each MLB city are put forth by their local chapter chairman and must be approved by the national secretary-treasurer.
Writers are only allowed to vote for the league in which their city’s team plays. MVP ballots include 10 spots and must be submitted prior to the start of the postseason. Votes are counted via a point system based on which spot players are listed on a ballot. A first-place vote is worth 14 points, while second through 10th spots on the ballot are worth 9 through 1 points in the corresponding descending order.
There are several factors that may sway each writer’s choices. Generally, the award goes to the player with the top statistical accomplishments. Others base their votes, at least toward the bottom of their ballot, on the true meaning of “most valuable” as in which players did the most to improve or help his team’s performance.
Unfortunately, local biases can’t be fully eliminated based on the current voting system, and occasionally writers may give extra credit to a less-deserving player from the team they cover daily.
MVP betting history: recent winners
|Year||AL Winner||Odds||NL Winner||Odds|
|2019||Mike Trout (LAA)||+125||Cody Bellinger (LAD)||+3000|
|2018||Mookie Betts (BOS)||+2500||Christian Yelich (MIL)||+15000|
|2017||Jose Altuve (HOU)||+1200||Giancarlo Stanton (MIA)||+4500|
|2016||Mike Trout (LAA)||+160||Kris Bryant (CHC)||+1000|
|2015||Josh Donaldson (TOR)||+1600||Bryce Harper (WAS)||+2000|
|2014||Mike Trout (LAA)||+500||Clayton Kershaw (LAD)||+2000|
|2013||Miguel Cabrera (DET)||+700||Andrew McCutchen (PIT)||+1500|
|2012||Miguel Cabrera (DET)||+900||Buster Posey (SFG)||+2500|
|2011||Justin Verlander (DET)||+7500||Ryan Braun (MIL)||+800|
|2010||Josh Hamilton (TEX)||+1000||Joey Votto (CIN)||+5000|