The MLB futures for the 2011 American League MVP are especially intriguing with some big names finding new teams and figuring to contend for the coveted award. Let’s handicap the top 10.
1. Miguel Cabrera
Sportsbook odds: +400
Miggy is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career. The Tigers slugger has at least 103 RBI in all seven of his full pro seasons, at least 30 homers in six of seven full pro seasons and a .320 batting average or better in five of his last six seasons. 2010 was his best year yet, as he set career highs with 38 homers and drove in 127 runs.
He should have better protection with Victor Martinez joining Detroit’s lineup, so Cabrera is a fine pick to win the AL MVP.
2. Adrian Gonzalez
Sportsbook odds: +500
The MLB betting community is finally about to find out how good this guy is. Adrian Gonzalez was a perennial 40-homer threat playing in baseball’s worst hitter’s park in a popgun lineup with the San Diego Padres. Now he goes to Boston? Scary. On the road the last two years over 602 at-bats, basically a full season, A-Gonz hit .311 with 48 homers and 122 RBI. That’s exactly the type of year I expect him to have.
3. Evan Longoria
Sportsbook odds: +700
It’s only a matter of time before Evan Longoria wins an MVP award. The 25-year-old is the total package and still has room to get better. Still—he hasn’t vaulted into the same echelon as a slugger like Miguel Cabrera. Miggy has bested Longoria’s numbers every year, and even he still hasn’t won an MVP yet. So Longoria may have to wait a bit longer.
4. Josh Hamilton
Sportsbook odds: +800
There’s no doubting Josh Hamilton’s all-world talent. He put it all together last year, hitting .350 with 30-plus homers and 100 RBI in just 133 games. But Hamilton hasn’t posted back-to-back healthy seasons in his career. His games played over four seasons: 90, 156, 89, 133. We can’t trust him this year.
5. Joe Mauer
Sportsbook odds: +1000
The 2009 AL MVP is probably the best pure hitter on the planet—but his 28-homer MVP season really looks like an outlier. He has one other 13-homer season and has single-digit homer totals every other year. I’m not sure he has the power to steal the award a second time.
6. Mark Teixeira
Sportsbook odds: +1200
Tex only batted .256 last season, but you know you’re good when 33 homers and 108 RBI qualify as a “down” season. He still topped Josh Hamilton in both those categories. Teixeira is young enough—31 on April 11—that his career year could still be ahead of him. He has a shot at the MVP this year.
7. Alex Rodriguez
Sportsbook odds: +1500
Now 35 years old, A-Rod is almost certainly past his prime. He’s also missing more time than he used to as his creaky hip starts to get the better of him. Still, he drove in a whopping 125 runs with no one even noticing him last year. We can’t count him out of the MVP race just yet.
8. Robinson Cano
Sportsbook odds: +1800
A third straight Yankee to appear on this sports betting blog list, Cano was the MVP choice over Josh Hamilton in many people’s eyes last year. He’s far more durable and an outstanding hitter at a traditionally thin offensive position. His game reached a new height last season and could stay there.
9. Justin Morneau
Sportsbook odds: +2000
Whenever Justin Morneau plays, he contends for the MVP award. He had a monster season going in 2010 before a concussion derailed him. But we have to relegate him to sleeper status for 2011 since we can’t know for sure that he’ll return from the serious injury without a hitch.
10. Kevin Youkilis
Sportsbook odds: +2500
If people voted on who they simply wanted to win the award, Youk would probably win. He’s a beloved player for his team play, batting eye, power and defense. But are there too many cooks in the kitchen? He has to contend with MVP candidates Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford and 2008 winner Dustin Pedroia on his own team.
American League MVP free pick
Miguel Cabrera’s numbers are difficult to ignore, and guys like Longoria and Cano seem ready to make the next jump. However, I’m a believer in Adrian Gonzalez. He’s a phenomenal talent long overdue to be recognized as one of the game’s best. I think it all comes together for him in 2011.