Shohei Ohtani's Mysterious Departure Opens Up AL MVP Futures


Sep 18, 2023

For months, it has been a foregone conclusion that Shohei Ohtani would be crowned AL MVP. The Los Angeles Angels dual-threat does more than anyone else has over the past 100 years, exhibiting hitting and pitching excellence. However, a UCL injury disrupted Ohtani’s campaign. Then, frustration set in.

The presumptive MVP didn’t partake in year-end photos, instead needing a stand-in and photoshop to make him appear as a part of the team. And, in a shroud of mystery, Ohtani cleared out his locker and abandoned his squad. 

There’s no word about what this means for the future of Shohei Ohtani, but his mysterious departure profoundly impacted the futures market. Most sportsbooks have reopened the AL MVP board, opening the door for several dark horse contenders. 

Corey Seager

After being closed for months, futures boards are starting to pop up at most shots. Although Ohtani is still priced as the chalky favorite, Corey Seager’s name is showing up right behind him. 

The Texas Rangers’ slugger is having a banner year. Through September 16, Seager has tied Ohtani with a .654 slugging percentage, tops in the American League. Predictably, that improved production has resulted in increased output. Seager has already set a career-high with 92 RBI, sitting three back of Ohtani, the league leader. 

Moreover, Seager’s 31 home runs are two short of his previous benchmark. Although he won’t match Ohtani’s 44, Seager is only six extra-base hits short of Ohtani’s 78.

Recency bias will play into voting. If Seager maintains his play and helps the Rangers make the playoffs, it could be enough to convince voters he’s the most valuable player in the AL.

Julio Rodriguez

We can’t talk about recency bias without bringing up Julio Rodriguez. The Seattle Mariners outfielder has almost single-handedly dragged the M’s into the playoffs. He’s got the third-shortest odds on the board and falling.

J-Rod ended August with a mind-numbing 1.198 OPS. Seventeen of his 45 hits went for extra bases, accounting for 30 RBI and 19 runs scored. He’s fallen off that pace somewhat in September but is still producing an MVP-esque 1.020 OPS.

If Rodriguez re-captures his August form over the season’s final two weeks, there may be no denying him the MVP award.

Kyle Tucker

Houston Astros outfielder Kyle Tucker is on the edge of contending for his first career MVP. Still, his credentials are undeniable. 

Tucker is the AL leader in RBI, driving in 105 with time left in the season. Combined with his 28 stolen bases, 27 long fly balls, and 87 runs scored, Tucker ranks in the top 12 in most offensive categories. 

His OPS leaves a little to be desired, but if Tucker pulls up his socks to end the season, he could garner more MVP attention. 

The Human Element

Let’s not forget the human component to award winners. The BWAA votes on the AL MVP, and the secrecy about Ohtani’s departure could leave a bad taste in voters’ mouths.

The Angels haven’t offered any insights about what’s happening, and Ohtani has yet to disclose his perspective. In addition to being surpassed in several noteworthy metrics, the optics could cause a shift in voters’ mentality before voting begins. 

 Verdict – Diversify Portfolios

With uncertainty creeping in, now’s a good time to diversify your futures portfolio. It’s no longer a given that Ohtani walks away with his second MVP trophy. With several players catching and surpassing him in some regards, there’s value in finding a new candidate to back. 

As the price implies, Corey Seager is the most likely player to usurp Ohtani. Adding a futures ticket to your wallet sooner rather than later is the best play to make.

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Thumbnail photo via Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

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