MLB

AL MVP Odds: Aaron Judge Is Pulling Away

Aidan McGrath
Aidan McGrath@ffaidanmcgrath

The 2024 MLB season is nearing its halfway point -- the All-Star break is right around the corner. There's still a lot of baseball left to play, but we can already start making some predictions about how the rest of the season will pan out.

That's especially true for the American League MVP race this year. We have a group of leaders playing some top-tier ball this season, with one future Hall of Famer -- Aaron Judge -- putting up gaudy numbers to lead the way.

Will Judge continue playing at his current incredible pace or will some of the American League's other MVP contenders overtake him as we enter the second half of the race?

Let's check out FanDuel Sportsbook's AL MVP odds market and take a look at the top options.

AL MVP Odds

Player
Team
Odds
Aaron JudgeNew York Yankees-135
Gunnar HendersonBaltimore Orioles+350
Juan SotoNew York Yankees+650
Bobby Witt Jr.Kansas City Royals+700
Jose RamirezCleveland Guardians+3000
Steven KwanCleveland Guardians+5500

Aaron Judge, Yankees (-135)

If you've been paying attention to baseball at all this year, you're probably already aware of how well Judge is playing for the New York Yankees. The star slugger is dialed in right now, with a 1.108 OPS, 28 home runs, and 70 RBI -- he leads all of baseball in each of those marks to date.

Judge's current production puts him on pace to challenge his MVP-winning marks from 2022, a season in which he set the American League home run record with 62 jacks. numberFire's projections have him hitting 25 more dingers by the end of the year, giving him 53 by the end of the season -- tying him for the 29th-most in a single season of all time. Any season that gets you on an all-time leaderboard is going to give you pretty strong chance of claiming the MVP award that year, especially if your team in winning, which the Yankees are.

Judge has been so dominant to this point that FanDuel Sportsbook is offering a solo market on the star versus. the field. He has -136 odds to win AL MVP there, against +108 odds for any other player to claim the award. If you have doubts about Judge's ability to win a second MVP award, you might consider taking the field there rather than betting on any specific player to win the award instead.

Gunnar Henderson, Orioles (+350)

Of course, just because you can bet the field versus Judge doesn't mean you can't also pick a specific player to wrest the award out from his massive mitts. Gunnar Henderson is hot on Judge's heels in most regards as he looks to go from 2023 AL Rookie of the Year to 2024 AL MVP.

The Baltimore Orioles' infielder has 24 homers on the season, just behind Judge's MLB-best 28. His 5.1 Offensive Wins Above Replacement (oWAR) -- per Baseball-Reference -- ranks second behind Judge's 5.3 oWAR mark, putting Henderson and Judge in a tier of their own in that department as Juan Soto's 3.9 oWAR ranks third-best in the American League.

While it's borderline impossible to match Judge at the plate, Henderson is at least doing his best to challenge Judge's claim to the award in other aspects of the game. For instance, he's been making a major impact on defense, where his 1.1 Defensive WAR is tied for the ninth-best mark in the Majors. His combined efforts give him a total of 5.4 WAR overall -- according to FanGraphs -- just ahead of Judge's second-ranked 5.2 WAR.

Juan Soto, Yankees (+650)

There certainly seems to be a gap separating Judge and Henderson from the rest of the pack, but Juan Soto is having an excellent season and can't be counted out of the MVP race.

As we mentioned earlier, Soto's 3.9 oWAR ranks third-best in the American League. His overall 4.6 FanGraphs' WAR is also the third-best clip in baseball. If Soto continues playing at his current level over the second half of the year, he would be on pace to finish with 9.2 WAR. By comparison, just 5 of the 20 previous winners over the last 10 season have exceeded that mark in their winning campaigns, and two of those players were Shohei Ohtani in seasons where he operated as a pitcher and as a batter.

In short, Soto is playing MVP-caliber ball right now -- he's just also playing in a season where two other stars are producing out of their minds.

That means Soto will either need to take it up another level over the summer or for Henderson and Judge to cool off. Playing on the same team as the MVP frontrunner makes it even more difficult for Soto, so he might be roadblocked unless he can emerge from the All-Star break on a serious heater.

Bobby Witt Jr., Royals (+700)

Most of what we just described about Soto also applies to third-year Kansas City Royals star Bobby Witt Jr.. The ascendant talent has seemingly taken his game to the next level this season -- he is essentially on pace to finish with career-high numbers across the board. He's striking out just 16.5% of the time (78th-percentile) while batting .312 with a .361 OBP and a .522 SLG.

Witt's performance has been a major factor in his team's surprising success this year -- the Royals have as many wins as the Minnesota Twins (43) and are in third place in the AL Central. They even have +138 odds to make the MLB playoffs this year, which would end an eight-year postseason drought KC has endured since winning the World Series in 2015.

Like Soto, Witt is currently on pace to finish with an impressive WAR of 9.0. He's filling up the stat sheet and playing excellent defense to back it up -- his 10.5 defensive rating on FanGraphs is tied for the best in all of baseball.

As good as Witt's season is going, it's still going to be hard for him to overtake the guys ahead of him in the race right now -- especially if the Royals continue their early-summer slump. And even with KC having a nice year, they're still a ways behind the Yankees and O's.


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The above author is a FanDuel employee and is not eligible to compete in public daily fantasy contests or place sports betting wagers on FanDuel. The advice provided by the author does not necessarily represent the views of FanDuel. Taking the author's advice will not guarantee a successful outcome. You should use your own judgment when participating in daily fantasy contests or placing sports wagers.