Shohei Ohtani won the AL MVP in 2021, so MLB fans know the level of player we’re dealing with. However, we might still not be fully appreciating what we are watching and just how incredible it really is.
On Wednesday, Ohtani threw seven innings of two-hit baseball while striking out ten. He gave up a run, but it was unearned. He also had a huge two-RBI hit that gave the Angels the lead in the 5th inning. I have added a stolen base as well. Since the RBI became an official stat in 1920, Ohtani is the first player in MLB history to strike out ten batters as a pitcher while contributing two RBIs and a stolen base. It feels like every week, Ohtani does something that hasn’t been done in baseball history.
As the reigning MVP, Ohtani is in the picture once again this year. Ohtani is +260 to win AL MVP; only Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees has better odds. However, there’s another award that Ohtani has a realistic shot at this year and the betting market is beginning to take notice.
Ohtani is climbing the Cy Young odds
In early June, Shohei Ohtani gave up eight hits and four runs over three innings against the New York Yankees. His ERA from him ballooned up to 3.99 and his AL Cy Young odds dropped all the way down to 40-to-1. While he was doing fine at the plate as a hitter, his pitching of him wasn’t getting much attention.
However, in his last five starts, Ohtani has gone 33.2 innings while giving up just one earned run. Over his last four starts, he hasn’t given up an earned run. He’s got 46 strikeouts in his last five starts and has 34 over his last three starts.
As Ohtani’s dominant stretch has unfolded, his odds at BetMGM to win AL Cy Young have continued to decrease. Here’s how his odds have changed over the course of the last few weeks:
June 14th: 40-to-1
June 28th: 15-to-1
July 4th: 12-to-1
Going from a 40-to-1 long shot to +900 odds in less than a month underscores just how dominant Ohtani has been. I have currently has the fourth best odds to win the AL Cy Young behind only Shane McClanahan (+250), Justin Verlander (+260) and Gerrit Cole (+850). Ohtani is currently the biggest liability for BetMGM in the Cy Young market.
MVP vs. Cy Young?
Shohei Ohtani is a realistic contender to win both the MVP and the Cy Young. The odds suggest he’s more likely to win MVP than the Cy Young, but does that make it a better bet?
Ohtani is currently +260 to win the AL MVP for a second consecutive year. Aaron Judge is the betting favorite at -110. Yordan Alvarez of the Astros has the third best odds at +650.
You can make the case that Ohtani should win the MVP every year because of how dominant he is both at the plate and on the mound. It’s hard to say that anyone in the sport is more valuable than someone with the potential to hit 40 home runs while pitching to an ERA in the mid-2s.
However, let’s be honest. MVP voters are humans and they get bored. If they did n’t, LeBron James would have a lot more NBA MVPs during his career. It’s also hard to ignore the season Aaron Judge is having on a Yankees team that is off to a historic start. There’s plenty of attention and storylines there, between the pending free agency, the New York factor and the Yankees’ performance as a team. If the season ended now, it’s hard to envision anyone but Judge winning the award.
Ohtani is +900 to win the Cy Young which are already much better odds than his MVP odds. While the odds suggest he’s less likely to win, he’s also not dealing with competition at the level that Judge provides in the MVP race.
Shane McClanahan is the current AL Cy Young favorite, but he’s a young pitcher and this is his first full season. Justin Verlander is right behind McClanahan, but he’s an older pitcher returning from two years away from the sport due to injury. These are the types of pitchers that have a higher chance of running into fatigue and missing a bit, or even having their innings watched and limited by their teams.
Ohtani is a media darling as well, so if his numbers are comparable to other Cy Young contenders, he might get the benefit of the doubt from a lot of voters. If I had to pick between betting Ohtani to win the Cy Young or the MVP right now at their current odds, I’d probably lean towards the +900 on Ohtani to win the Cy Young.