If I were to tell you that a player from the Los Angeles Angels was taking mega-heavy action to win the 2021 American League MVP Award, you would probably say "Yeah, Mike Trout, which makes sense." Indeed, the three-time AL MVP is a clear-cut +250 favorite at William Hill Sportsbook entering the new season. However, it's teammate Shohei Ohtani who has rocketed up the odds chart for MVP, now at +1500.
Back in mid-February, Ohtani was a +6000 long shot for the AL MVP. He's clearly the most interesting player in Major League Baseball because he's not only a good hitter but starting pitcher, but Ohtani has had trouble staying healthy. The 26-year-old from Japan struggled in the shortened 2020 season, batting just .190 with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 44 games and going 0-1 with a 37.80 ERA and 6.60 WHIP in two starts on the mound.
However, he raked in Cactus League action this spring in going 17-for-31 (.548) with five homers, eight RBIs, an OBP of .571 and a slugging percentage of 1.032. As a pitcher, though, not good as Ohtani as he was 0-3 with a 12.19 ERA in four starts. Batters hit .326 against him.
The Halos are going with a six-man rotation so Ohtani will only pitch once most weeks, and he was scheduled to make his mound debut on ESPN's Sunday Night Baseball against the visiting White Sox – those teams open up Thursday in Anaheim.
However, it's not clear if that will still happen as Ohtani was pulled from Monday's start vs. the Dodgers with a blister issue on his right middle finger. Ohtani, who bats left but throws right, said the blister doesn't bother him at all while he's swinging a bat, and he was at DH in Tuesday's spring game.
One William Hill bettor in Nevada put down $30,000 on Ohtani when he was +3000 to win MVP on March 16 for a total potential payout of $930,000. That's the largest 2021 MLB MVP futures wager taken at the book. Ohtani has taken 68 percent of all money wagered at William Hill on this prop and 23 percent of all tickets sold, both easily first among players. Trout ranks second in total dollars wagered at 19 percent but with just four percent of total number of tickets.
"There's definitely some Angels love in the futures markets," said Nick Bogdanovich, Director of Trading for William Hill US. "We get crushed with the Angels for World Series. We certainly don't want Ohtani to win MVP. But it's still early. Once the [NCAA] tournament is behind us and baseball starts playing every day, those markets are going to pick up even more."
The White Sox's Jose Abreu is the reigning AL MVP and is +2500 to repeat. No one has done that in the Junior Circuit since the Tigers' Miguel Cabrera in 2013.
William Hill AL MVP favorites
- Mike Trout +250
- Shohei Ohtani +1500
- Alex Bregman +1500
- Aaron Judge +1500
- Gleyber Torres +1800
- Jose Ramirez +1800
- Anthony Rendon +2000
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