2024 MLB MVP Futures – Breaking Down Deep Races In Both Leagues

Two events involving one paradigm-shifting player massively shook up the 2024 MVP futures markets within the past six months.

Last September, Shohei Ohtani underwent reconstructive elbow surgery, all but guaranteeing he wouldn’t be able to pitch in 2024, depriving him of one of the twin pillars that had helped him win American League MVP honours in two of the past three seasons. Then, two months later, he signed his record-breaking $700 million contract to switch teams and leagues, landing 35 miles up Interstate 5 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Make no mistake: Ohtani still is a bona fide MVP candidate in the NL – the No. 3 choice at +600 – but he’ll have to earn it exclusively with his bat this time and the AL race is now relatively wide open as a result of his choice to switch from Angel red to Dodger blue.

With spring training games just getting underway and little news so far to speak of from camps in Arizona or Florida, this is a good time to wade into the MVP odds offered by Bet365.

2024 National League MVP Odds & Insights

In the senior circuit, you first have to build a case against the favourite. After all, what’s not to like about a reigning MVP who just posted an 8.3 fWAR season and is entering his age-26 season? Ronald Acuña Jr. offers tremendous value at +450, far more than, say, Ohtani, at only slightly longer odds.

Why? One of the angles worth exploring is the changing demographics of the voting bloc. The Baseball Writers Association of America increasingly is made up of younger voters as legacy media companies shed older and more-expensive employees amid industry pressures. Younger voters typically value the Wins Above Replacement statistic more highly than older voters and fielding is a major, perhaps excessive, component of WAR. While Acuña didn’t grade out as a great fielder in 2023, he has an excellent arm and good speed. Ohtani figures to play the vast majority, if not all, of his games as a designated hitter to avoid straining his recovering arm.

Sticking with that thought for a moment, Mookie Betts also figures to benefit from his defensive value as the Dodgers plan on using him entirely at second base this season, a position he mastered in remarkably short order after playing excellent right field most of his career. Some advanced defensive statistics preferred his play at second to his play in the outfield. As great as Betts is, however, his value here is iffy given that he’s five years older than Acuña and his hitless performance in the 2023 post-season casts some doubt on whether he’ll continue to play as brilliantly as he plays into his 30s.

Freddie Freeman is three years older than Betts and the rule of thumb among scouts for years was that few players improve dramatically after age 32. Freeman certainly is capable of adding another MVP trophy to the 2020 hardware he already has, but the value isn’t great here given his age. Harper, 31, offers better value as he settles in at first base, which should help him avoid injury and, perhaps add some defensive value on the margin.

Ronald Acuna Jr to win 2024 NL MVP


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2024 National League MVP Dark Horses

Fernando Tatis Jr. offers superb value here at 10-to-1 as one of the few players with the tools to give Acuña a run for his money. Oh, and he’s a year younger than the Braves’ right fielder. He seems like he’s in a great spot to rebound from a sub-par 2023 season in which his OPS fell by roughly 200 points. The peripherals are encouraging with Tatis, as he’s coming off a career-high 29-stolen base season and grades out as a far superior outfielder to Acuña.

The Braves front office deserves major credit for parting with Freeman in favour of Matt Olson, who is four years younger and led the league in slugging last season. But these odds seem a little short on a player whose best MVP finish before last season was a top-8 showing in 2021.

Corbin Carroll is tempting at these odds given his top-5 finish last season in just his age-22 season. It may be a lot to ask of such a young player and some of the projection systems, such as ZiPS, are forecasting some growing pains, but 20-to-1 on a talent of Carroll’s is too good to pass up. Riley, too, offers great value as he enters the start of his prime at age 27. The value seems solid here on Trea Turner. The two aging St. Louis Cardinals infielders, Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado, seem to offer scant value coming off down seasons on an overrated team, but Ozzie Albies at +7500 offers great value here as he enters just his age-27 season surrounded by several other MVP contenders in a stacked lineup.

Ronald Acuna Jr (ATL)+450Mookie Betts (LAD)+600Shohei Ohtani (LAD)+600
Freddie Freeman (LAD)+800Bryce Harper (PHI)+1000Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD)+1000
Matt Olson (ATL)+1000Corbin Carroll (ARI)+2000Trea Turner (PHI)+2000
Austin Riley (ATL)+2200Francisco Lindor (NYM)+2500Pete Alonso (NYM)+2500

2024 American League MVP Odds & Insights

That anyone can still grouse about Judge winning the award two years ago over Ohtani seems absurd. He played on a far better team, mashed 62 home runs and posted a staggering 11.6 fWAR. Still, because he played college baseball and didn’t debut until he was 24, he’s older than many people realize at 31 and his size as he plays the outfield can’t be ignored given that he has had major injury issues in three of his last five seasons. He’s great and certainly will be a contender if he stays healthy, but we’ll pass at this number.

His new teammate, Juan Soto, however, offers plenty to like here. ZiPS projects him to lead the AL in WAR and, while you could nitpick by pointing out a strikeout rate that eked up and a walk rate that ticked down, he’ll be playing in a far better offensive environment at Yankee Stadium than Petco Park and the riches of free agency have rarely been a bad thing to spur a player to perform at his best.

Corey Seager is a superb player who hadn’t gotten his due until he posted an eye-popping 6.1 fWAR in just 119 games then capped it with a remarkable 2023 post-season, but this price seems a bit short for a player who also has had his share of injuries and only has finished top-10 in MVP voting in two of his nine seasons.

Yordan Alvarez figures to contend for this award every season and it’s stunning that he still is just 26 years old, but he’s a detriment defensively, which means he’s always swimming uphill to some extent. On the other hand, Julio Rodriguez, 23, seems accurately priced here given his talent level and tender age.

Juan Soto to win 2024 AL MVP


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2024 American League MVP Dark Horses

Run, don’t walk, to play Adley Rutschman at +2200 here. His consistency in his first two seasons eclipsing 5.0 WAR is remarkable and, if it’s close, voters figure to give it to the catcher on an excellent young team given his two-way impact. At this price, we’re not as crazy about Rutschman’s teammate, Gunnar Henderson, who isn’t a great fielder and likely will yield shortstop to up-and-coming prospect Jackson Holliday before long.

José Ramirez and Mike Trout figure to contend as long as they stay healthy, but at ages 31 and 32, respectively, these odds seem a bit short. It’s a shame Trout has played so infrequently in the post-season and has seen his production cut short by injuries in recent seasons. Ramirez has rarely gotten his due but has had declining production in three straight seasons. Bobby Witt Jr. is intriguing given his age (23) and his improvement in his second season, but he might feel the pressure this season of his new $288.7 million contract extension. Respect to Marcus Semien for making himself into one of the best players in the game, but this is a short price on a 33-year-old who has finished top 10 just three times in his career. Rafael Devers is fairly priced here given that he gets votes almost every season, but he might get lost on a mediocre team playing in a brutal division filled with MVP candidates. Look out for Vladimir Guerrero Jr. here at +2000. He’ll be looking to prove he still belongs in the MVP discussion.

Aaron Judge (NYY)+500Juan Soto (NYY)+550Corey Seager (TEX)+700
Yordan Alvarez (HOU)+800Julio Rodriguez (SEA)+1000Kyle Tucker (HOU)+1200
Gunnar Henderson (BAL)+1500Jose Ramirez (CLE)+1500Mike Trout (LAA)+1500
Adley Rutschman (BAL)+2000Vladimir Guerrero Jr (TOR)+2000Bo Bichette (TOR)+2200