AL MVP Favored Role Shifts to Aaron Judge with Mike Trout Injury

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, June 1, 2017 5:29 PM UTC

Thursday, Jun. 1, 2017 5:29 PM UTC

If you placed a bet on Angels outfielder Mike Trout to win a third career AL MVP Award at one of SBR’s top sportsbooks back in the spring, that’s looking like a loss now. Trout is out 6-8 weeks, and the MLB odds have shifted in a big way.

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Trout’s Injury Ruins His Best-Ever Start

On Wednesday, Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout underwent surgery to repair a torn ligament in his left thumb. He injured it sliding headfirst – which is stupid, frankly, of any player – into second base on a steal attempt during a recent game vs. the Marlins. Trout will miss 6-8 weeks, and it’s the first time baseball’s best player has ever landed on the disabled list. The Angels weren’t going anywhere with him but might now be the worst team in baseball.

We aren’t here to talk about the Angels and their season. Trout was a heavy MLB betting favorite to win a third career AL MVP Award. He was leading the American League in pretty much every major statistical hitting category when he went down. Somehow, Trout had gotten better in 2017. He was hitting .337 with 16 homers, 36 RBIs, 36 walks, 36 runs, 10 steals, an on-base percentage of .461, a slugging of .742 and an OPS of 1.203 in 47 games.

Trout had a Wins Above Replacement number of 3.36, which led the majors by far. He was on track for a WAR of 11.0, which would have been a career high and the best in the majors since Barry Bonds had 11.8 in the 2001 & ’02 seasons. The record is 14.1 by Babe Ruth in 1923.

It’s hard to see Trout winning the MVP now because he won’t likely be back until early August. His Angels will be well under .500 then so voters aren’t going to give it to Trout this time. Bovada has thus adjusted its AL MVP odds accordingly.

The new MLB betting favorite at -150 is Yankees rookie outfielder Aaron Judge. Barring injury, Judge seems a lock to win AL Rookie of the Year at a minimum. The only two players to win ROY and MVP were Fred Lynn of the Red Sox in 1975 and Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners in 2001. Judge is second among position players in WAR at 3.06 and leads the AL in homers and runs scored while ranking second in slugging and OPS. He’s also on a first-place team, which always helps in MVP voting.

There’s a huge drop-off to Boston outfielder Mookie Betts (+750), Houston second baseman Jose Altuve (+900) and Astros shortstop Carlos Correa (+900). Betts finished second in the 2016 MVP voting to Trout. Betts hasn’t been quite as productive yet in 2017.

Altuve, third in the 2016 voting, and Correa play on the best team in baseball but could split the vote. No second baseman has won AL MVP since Boston’s Dustin Pedroia in 2008. No shortstop since Alex Rodriguez in 2003 with the Rangers. He won two more MVPs with the Yankees but was playing third base then.

My preseason value MLB pick was Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor, then at +1600 and now he’s +1000 with Twins outfielder Miguel Sano. The Tribe have underachieved a bit, but it hasn’t been Lindor’s fault as he already has nearly matched his career high in homers. He would need to raise his average quite a bit to warrant realistic MVP consideration. The other two AL MVP betting candidates are Rays outfielder Corey Dickerson are +1200 and Mariners second baseman Robinson Cano (+2500).

It’s a bit early for me to make a definitive MVP prediction, but it seems clear that it will now be a first-time winner.

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