We’re quickly approaching Opening Day of the 2022 MLB season, so we dive into the American League Player Awards futures markets with our top AL MVP and Cy Young picks.
Shohei Ohtani batted just .190 and pitched all of 1 2/3 innings in the shortened 2020 MLB season. Heading into 2021, he had almost no MVP buzz. However, a finally healthy Ohtani hit 46 home runs and stole 26 bases to go with a .965 OPS, and he pitched like a true ace in 23 starts (130 1/3 innings) for a 9-2 record, 3.18 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, and 3.52 FIP.
Ohtani is a unique case because no other player is both an elite hitter and pitcher, but his ability to emerge from further down the preseason odds list shouldn’t be ignored. Players can elevate themselves into the MVP and Cy Young discussion, no matter their preseason expectations. In terms of the latter, look no further than last year’s winner, Robbie Ray.
Here is a look at the AL MVP and Cy Young Award races with odds courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.
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AL Player Awards Odds: MVP
AL Player Awards Picks: MVP
Ohtani, DH/SP, Los Angeles Angels (+350)
Ohtani enters the season as the favorite after putting it all together last campaign, showcasing his unique ability to provide value as a hitter and pitcher. If he plays at a similar level, he'll be in the MVP mix once again.
Trout, OF, Angels (+400)
Trout was the preseason favorite to win the AL MVP in each of the past nine seasons, but the streak has come to an end thanks to his teammate. Though Trout still hits like an MVP, his durability has been an issue — he played just 36 games last season — and he's no longer the base-stealer he once was. Still, he’s just 30 years old, and that's too soon to just push aside the best hitter of this generation.
Guerrero, 1B, Toronto Blue Jays (+400)
Guerrero was simply OK through his first two seasons before putting on a hitting clinic last season. He clobbered 48 home runs and led the AL in on-base percentage (.401) and slugging (.601). Vladdy was runner-up to Ohtani, and the 23-year-old will be a legit MVP contender for the better part of the next decade.
Judge, OF, New York Yankees (+1600)
Judge is a perennial MVP candidate if he can stay on the field. However, he's regularly dealt with injuries since finishing as the MVP runner-up in 2017, when he led the league in walks (123) and home runs (52).
Franco, SS, Tampa Bay Rays (+1800)
Perhaps this is a year or two ahead of schedule, but don’t dismiss the potential of an elite talent who slashed .323/.382/.503 in his last 50 games as a 20-year-old rookie for the Rays. However, he managed only seven home runs in 70 games as a rookie. He would need a power surge to compete with the likes of Ohtani, Trout, Guerrero, and Judge.
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Ramirez, 3B, Cleveland Guardians (+2000)
According to ZiPS projections, Ramirez is forecasted to have the highest fWAR (5.9) in the American League. If he is doing it for a Guardians team that is languishing at the bottom of the standings that might make it more difficult. But Ramirez’s name has been in trade rumors so a chance to play for a contender could still be out there and Ramirez has been an elite offensive performer for the past five seasons.
Tucker, OF, Houston Astros (+3000)
A 25-year-old outfielder who has slashed .287/.349/.544 with 162-game averages of 32 home runs and 18 stolen bases in the past two seasons, Tucker has not produced at an MVP level yet. However, if he continues to improve and the Astros are atop the AL West, Tucker might be one of those players that can charge from further down the list.
AL MVP History
While there have been some Mike Trout years in which the preseason favorite won the award, there has been a healthy dose of variety when it comes to the AL MVP. Since 2010, there have been six winners that had preseason odds of +1200 or higher, with 2010 Josh Hamilton coming in at +10000, according to www.sportsoddshistory.com. Thus, the greatest potential value is likely to be found by looking either down the board or off the board altogether. Ohtani, Trout, and Guerrero are worthy favorites but don’t offer much value at these prices, in part because there are at least two elite alternatives competing for the award.
AL MVP Best Bets
Among the favorites, Guerrero Jr. is most intriguing because, at his age, last season should not be his peak. That means if there is further improvement coming and Guerrero could mash 55+ home runs and lead the league on on-base percentage, that is the kind of production that could sway voters, even if Ohtani delivers another amazing two-way season. Otherwise, seek out value further down the board and even be prepared to pounce if a longshot starts putting up big numbers.
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AL Player Awards Odds: Cy Young
AL Player Awards Picks: Cy Young
Cole, Yankees (+425)
Even if he is not as dominant with the Yankees as he was with the Astros, Cole is a consistent overpowering starter who has as good a shot as anyone to win the Cy Young. ZiPs projections have Cole quite clearly as the top pitcher in the American League for the 2022 season, with a projected fWAR of 5.8. That is good enough reason to consider him the favorite.
Bieber, Guardians (+700)
The 2020 AL Cy Young winner was not as dominant last season and was limited to 16 starts. But over the past three seasons, Bieber has a 2.92 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 11.9 K/9. If he starts at least 30 games for the Guardians, Bieber will have Cy Young numbers.
Ray, Seattle Mariners (+900)
A shocking Cy Young winner last season, Ray has always been able to miss bats but had a nasty tendency to miss the strike zone, too. He appeared to fix that issue and was deserving of the award in 2022. Can he do it again? That’s asking a lot, considering Ray’s previously inconsistent performance, but he has shown what is possible.
Giolito, Chicago White Sox (+1100)
After strong showings in 2019 and 2020, Giolito took a half step back last season. He was still very good, finishing 11th in AL Cy Young voting, but he was better in the previous two seasons. That track record has him ranked second on ZiPS AL pitcher projections for the 2022 season.
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Lynn, White Sox (+2000)
A workhorse starter for the White Sox, the 34-year-old faded in the second half last season and still finished third in Cy Young voting, his third straight season with a finish in the Top 6. He is not a favorite but at this price has a chance to provide value.
Garcia, Astros (+4000)
The 25-year-old opened last season in the Astros bullpen before he was quickly inserted into the rotation and he was runner-up for American League Rookie of the Year after going 11-9 with a 3.48 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, and 3.63 FIP. It would be a big jump to get right into the Cy Young mix, but it is worth paying attention to Garcia at this price.
AL Cy Young History
The American League Cy Young has been the domain of longshot winners. In the past decade, that includes longshots like Dallas Keuchel, Rick Porcello, and Blake Snell winning at long preseason odds as well as Robbie Ray last season and Corey Kluber’s first Cy Young in 2014 coming from pitchers that were not even on the board in the preseason.
AL Cy Young Best Bets
Much like the AL MVP race, there is plenty of justification for Gerrit Cole to be the favorite, but Cole hardly offers value at this price. Based on the recent history of this award, the AL Cy Young winner might be just as likely to be a longshot or off-the-board selection. In addition to the few potential value plays I have noted above, a healthy Noah Syndergaard (+4500) is worth consideration and second-year Blue Jays starter Alek Manoah could force his way into the discussion even though he is not listed among the Top 30 AL Cy Young options on DraftKings.
Where to Bet on AL Player Awards
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