, MLB Betting Analyst Edward Egros breaks down the Aaron Judge-Shohei Ohtani AL MVP debate from a betting perspective.,

Major League Baseball

19 mins ago

By Edward EgrosFOX Sports MLB Betting Analyst

Welcome back, Class! Of all the MVP races we’ve seen in the history of MLB, this one between Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani seems to be more complicated than a teenager’s dating life. 

Instead of comparing hitting resumes or one pitcher’s stellar numbers to a slugger’s performance, we have a hitter who could set American League home run records versus a two-way player who performs both things magnificently.

When it comes to gambling, FOX Bet is currently listing Judge at -10000 to win this year’s MVP honor (bet $10 to win $10.10 total), while Ohtani is +1300 (bet $10 to win $140 total). If you are strictly looking at the odds, they suggest this race is pretty much over. Let’s dive in.

Judge began the season with longer AL MVP odds than Ohtani (+2000 vs. +350). That all changed on June 5, when Judge notched his 21st home run. At the same time, Ohtani was putting up more modest numbers at the plate and on the mound, all while his Angels lost their 10th straight game. 

Since then, voters abandoned their priors and embraced Judge’s power. All the Yankees’ power-hitter has done so far is smash 59 home runs.

While the AL MVP odds have flip-flopped between the two throughout the season, Judge has now spent more time as the favorite and is on pace to pick up the hardware.

AARON JUDGE’S 2022 HOME RUN TOTAL (at FOX Bet)*

Over 61.5: -345 (bet $10 to win $12.90 total)Under 61.5: +300 (bet $10 to win $40 total)

* as of 9/18/2022 

One reason is Judge’s home runs are being cranked at a time when bombs are tougher to come by. MLB hitters are smashing dingers this season at a rate of 0.74% per plate appearance, the lowest rate since 2015. Also, Judge leads second-place Kyle Schwarber of the Phillies on the home-run leaderboard by 20, so “All Rise” seems to be the only slugger unaffected by these suppressed conditions.

Another reason Judge is the foregone winner in many people’s eyes is the novelty of Ohtani might be wearing off. He won last season’s MVP award with an on-base percentage (OBP) of .372 and an expected fielding independent pitching (xFIP) of 3.55. While his xFIP this season has gone down by 0.92, his OBP has dropped by .016. His pitching has improved by quite a bit, but he’s not the same slugger as last season.

RELATED: Cases for Ohtani, Judge for MVP

Statistics also back up this notion. As we’ve discussed in this space in the past, Wins Above Replacement (WAR) tends to be a strong predictor for MVP. 

In FanGraphs WAR, when you combine Ohtani’s hitting and pitching numbers, Judge still leads by 1.2 wins. Even Baseball Reference, which discounts Judge’s talent more, still gives him the edge by 0.4 wins. However, many have rightfully argued WAR does not capture Ohtani’s true value to the Angels because the team only needs one roster spot where everyone else would need two, so that extra spot gives the Angels additional roster flexibility no one else has. A big point for Ohtani in this debate.

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