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Up until a few weeks ago, the American League MVP race was hardly worth a discussion. Mike Trout was the odds-on favorite to take home his fourth trophy, and even in a short season, it was hard to bet against him.
Then came the murmurs that Trout, whose wife is pregnant with their first child, might miss a significant portion of the 2020 season. On Friday, the Angels star said he's unsure whether he'll play at all. If Trout misses any sizable stretch, his absence will provide major value for AL MVP bettors looking for a long-shot winner.
Here are the full odds for the award (shorter than 100-1) and the best value bets outside of Trout:
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||+5000|
Bregman finished as the AL MVP runner-up last season after a fifth-place finish the year before, so snagging 20-1 odds is excellent value on one of the game's best all-around hitters.
Save the retorts about trash cans and buzzers - there's no evidence the Astros cheated in 2019, and Bregman still led the league in walks with an eye-popping 1.43 BB/K, almost half a point better than second-place Carlos Santana (1.00). Bregman's plate discipline is for real, and his 8.5 fWAR a year ago teases his upside in 2020.
It feels impossible for someone on the same team as Trout to win MVP, but if the three-time winner is shelved, then Ohtani becomes an obvious candidate.
The two-way star finished ninth in OPS (.925) in 2018 but dealt with a knee injury throughout 2019, which kept him off the mound and hampered his numbers at the plate. With an extra four months of recovery this year, Ohtani's primed for a breakout season and should garner MVP buzz if the Angels make a playoff run.
We've only seen one pitcher (Justin Verlander, 2011) win the AL MVP in the last 27 years, but in a wacky season, anything can happen. If any pitcher has the stuff to put up ridiculous numbers through 60 games, it's Cole.
Compare Verlander's 2011 stats (24-5 record, 2.40 ERA, 250 strikeouts) with Cole's 2019 numbers (20-5 record, 2.50 ERA, 326 strikeouts) and it's clear the new Yankees ace has the potential to seize this award. Cole's team can easily support a gaudy record; if he provides the high strikeout totals, it's a compelling case at 40-1.
Oakland has three hitters - Matt Chapman (+2000), Marcus Semien (+4000), and Matt Olson (+6600) - vying for this award, so why not grab the one with the longest odds? Olson is the best defensive first baseman in the league and has improved his power yearly thanks to an increasing launch angle and barrel rate.
The A's slugger finished fourth in hard-hit rate (50.3%) among qualified batters in 2019, though his underlying "expected" batting numbers suggest he should be seeing even better results than his 36 home runs and .896 OPS from a year ago. If Olson can couple Gold Glove defense with league-leading power through 60 games, he's the best value in the field.
C Jackson Cowart is a betting writer for theScore. He's an award-winning journalist with stops at The Charlotte Observer, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Times Herald-Record, and BetChicago. He's also a proud graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill, and his love of sweet tea is rivaled only by that of a juicy prop bet. Find him on Twitter @CJacksonCowart.