Jose Abreu winning the 2020 American League MVP Award, given the odds, was a departure from the norm. Then again, just about everything was a departure from the norm last season.
The Chicago White Sox first baseman slugged his way to the award, edging division rival and Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez. In 60 games, Abreu hit 19 home runs with 60 RBIs while posting a .987 OPS. That’s obviously a very nice 60-game stretch, and Abreu deserved the honor.
Here’s the thing, though: It was only a 60-game stretch. The unique nature of last year’s pandemic-shortened season opened up the MVP field, and Abreu took home the hardware despite being a 100-1 long shot at some shops prior to Opening Day.
Typically, a long shot winning hasn’t been the case in the American League, thanks in large to Mike Trout. Since 2012, the longest odds prior to Abreu winning was in 2018, when Mookie Betts won AL MVP at 20-1 (which, by the way, feels like great value in hindsight). Trout has won the award three times, doing so at 5-1, 4-1 and even. In that same run, Miguel Cabrera won it twice — repeating in 2012 and 2013 at 2-1 and 7-1, respectively.
It’s rare a long shot hits for AL MVP, but that doesn’t mean you don’t want to look for some value when making an MVP wager. First, we need to look at the odds, though, via FanDuel sportsbook.
Mike Trout +220
Aaron Judge +1200
Alex Bregman +1500
Jose Ramirez +1500
Matt Chapman +1800
Anthony Rendon +1800
Shohei Ohtani +2000
DJ Lemahieu +2200
Luis Robert +2200
Gleyber Torres +2500
Jose Abreu +2500
So, where’s the value? The answer might be in the Bronx, but maybe not where you’d expect.
Gleyber Torres +2500
Admittedly, this strays outside the 20-1 trend, but there was some process of elimination here. If you want to bet on Trout, go crazy. He certainly has that short number for a reason. Going down the list, Aaron Judge has his injury problems. Alex Bregman is coming off an injury himself, and will voters really want to vote for an Astro so soon after the cheating scandal? The Indians might be bad, despite Ramirez’s efforts, making him a longer shot. Matt Chapman plays in Oakland, and the A’s look like the third-best team in that division, so that’s an uphill climb. If an Angel wins, it probably has to be Trout, eliminating Anthony Rendon and Shohei Ohtani.
That gets us all the way down to the 20-1 neighborhood, and Yankees infielder Gleyber Torres just is too good to pass up at 25-1. Playing in New York definitely earns you built-in points, so he’s got that. The Yankees should be contenders, and that also helps. It’s easier for shortstops to stand out, so check that box, too. Oh, and he’s really, really good.
Torres was banged up last year and had a forgettable 2020 campaign, but it was just two years ago he hit 38 home runs and totaled 90 RBIs. He’s certainly looked healthy in spring training, too, hitting five home runs in just 44 at-bats.
The biggest concern might be Torres’ teammates taking away votes. But he’ll continue to slug, and in that lineup, he’ll also score a ton of runs. He’ll have to clean up the defense a little bit, but even if he doesn’t, the elite offense at a premium position on the biggest stage in baseball makes Torres worth a nibble at 25-1 to win the AL MVP.