Judge, Torres, LeMahieu All See AL MVP Odds Get Longer; Why Are Sharps Fading Yankees?

DJ LeMahieu and Yankee teammates celebrating in the dugout
With a shortened 2020 MLB season in tow, and Giancarlo Stanton healthy again, the New York Yankees' stars have all seen their AL MVP odds slide. Photo via @BronxPinstripes (Twitter).
  • Every New York Yankee that was on the AL MVP odds board in late February has seen his odds fade in the eight weeks
  • Giancarlo Stanton, who suffered a calf strain in late February, is back to full health and makes his first appearance on the list
  • The 2020 MLB season remains in flux, but the AL MVP race is worth keeping an eye on

When baseball returns, will teams be subjected to a quarantined season in Arizona? Will the league be realigned to cut down on travel? Will fans be allowed to watch live?

None of those questions can be answered yet. But here’s another one to consider: why do the latest 2020 AL MVP odds have every New York Yankees player with longer odds, on average, than they had two months ago?

AL MVP odds

Player (Team) Odds on Feb. 28 Current odds
Mike Trout (LAA) -104 +106
Aaron Judge (NYY) +1026 +1075
Gleyber Torres (NYY) +1251 +1526
Francisco Lindor (CLE) +1764 +1565
Alex Bregman (HOU) +1414 +1540
Shohei Ohtani (LAA) +1702 +2004
Matt Chapman (OAK) +2254 +2031
Anthony Rendon (LAA) +2780 +2409
Josh Donaldson (MIN) +3595 +3208
Marcus Semien (OAK) +3005 +3209
Rafael Devers (BOS) +2955 +3334
Giancarlo Stanton (NYY) OFF +3500
Jose Ramirez (CLE) +4250 +3575
Jose Altuve (HOU) +3625 +3625
Gerrit Cole (NYY) +3130 +3759
DJ LeMahieu (NYY) +2507 +4263
Gary Sanchez (NYY) +5000 +5875

Odds as of April 30.

It might seem weird that the Yankees’ odds have changed without any baseball being played during the COVID-19 pandemic. But there are reasons for this, which we’ll dive into below.

Summoning Stanton

New York Yankees outfielder Giancarlo Stanton has a mammoth swing that can change the complexion of a baseball game. In sickness and in health, he can change the complexion of the MVP race, too.

Stanton, who slugged 59 home runs on his way to winning NL MVP in 2017, suffered a calf strain in spring training that would’ve kept him out if the season had started on time (hence why his Feb. 28 MVP odds were “OFF”).

Yankees manager Aaron Boone said recently that Stanton is doing well, adding, “When we get ready to go, he should certainly be ready to be back and part of things.”

That’s good for Stanton, but it helps explain the dip in his teammates’ MVP odds. Adding another star to the mix dilutes the level of production each individual player can be credited with.

Now, of course every player is still responsible for what they do in their own at-bats or outings on the mound. But with a team as loaded as the Yankees, it is more difficult to single out an individual for such a prestigious award.

Boston’s Mookie Betts did win the 2018 AL MVP with teammate J.D. Martinez finishing fourth. But the Yankees currently have five players in the top-16 AL MVP odds, which could prove to be too crowded.

Unpredictability Will Abound

It’s a simple concept: the smaller the sample, the greater the unpredictability.

The Yankees had a 12.7-percent chance of winning the World Series before COVID-19, the highest in the AL, according to FanGraphs. Those odds subsequently shrunk in projections of shorter seasons: 140 games (12 percent), 110 games (9.7 percent) and 81 games (8.1 percent).

In a shorter season — which is essentially a guarantee at this point — there is less time for the good teams to rise to the top and the bad teams to sink to the bottom.

Same goes for players. If Aaron Judge has a 1-for-31 start to an 81-game season, it’ll hurt him quite a bit more than if he did that to start a 162-game season. Games lost due to injury will also be more costly, and the Yankees have a litany of players with significant injury histories.

What’s The Best Bet?

Mike Trout has seen his odds-on status (-104) fade to plus money in the last eight weeks (presumably thanks to the smaller sample size of the 2020 season). He is the best player in baseball and should still command the bulk of one’s consideration for the MVP vote.

But if there was a time to go off the board a bit, now’s the time! Matt Chapman (+2301) and Jose Altuve (+3625) both make interesting cases in what could be the most unpredictable MLB season in history.

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