Pass the NJ sports betting baton. The calf injury forcing Millville Mike Trout off of the American League MVP leaderboard makes Los Angeles Angels teammate Shohei Ohtani consensus chalk at all major NJ online sportsbooks.
It’s a shame for Trout and New Jersey bettors who had backed the three-time AL MVP. He’d notched a fine start with eight homers, 18 RBI, .333 batting average, and a Major-league-Leading 1.090 OPS.
But now he’s been replaced and sits in the +1000 to +1500 range at many books.
William Hill, which took a cascade of preseason Ohtani money at high prices, has him at -120.
Why is Ohtani getting all the betting love?
The West Coast gamblers look prophetic for authoring the Ohtani Tsunami. It’s been an unprecedented betting wave since March for a player who had never produced big numbers.
What had they known, besides him being a batter and pitcher?
Ohtani hit .190 last season. In a 60-game season, he had seven home runs. He drove in 24, 16 less than Phillies leader Didi Gregorious.
Bettors crushed Ohtani numbers as if they knew a secret, which is now out.
Either way, baseball and the books enjoy the fresh-air perspective brought by Trout and Ohtani.
The story of Millville Mike Trout
The small-town boy makes a great story, in triplicate. The Cumberland County native, who grew up as a diehard Phillies fan and attended their 2008 World Series parade, has been the MLB poster child.
Trout pleases the purists, who observe his three MVPs in six years and know that legends like Joe DiMaggio, Micky Mantle, Lou Gehrig, and Ted Williams never did that.
Trout also pleases many younger fans, big bettors, who view his prop production like a cash register.
Ohtani hails from Japan and, in the mold of fellow countryman Ichiro Suzuki, captured the imagination and support of West Coast fans. Picture him as Ichiro with bulk. Ohtani is 6-foot-4, 210 pounds, five inches taller than Ichiro, and entered the last week of May with 14 homers. As well as 45 strikeouts in 30 innings from the mound.
Ohtani also pleases the purists, who appreciate Ichiro’s mastery of fundamentals.
But they were waiting for a breakout, too.
And they have one.
William Hill sportsbook detailed his meteoric climb.
Before the injury, Trout sat atop the board at +175 with Ohtani second at +600.
One night afterward, Ohtani was quickly adjusted to +350. His price shifted to -240 on May 19 and has snapped back to -110 as of early Wednesday afternoon.
Going deeper with the Ohtani odds
William Hill now has Toronto’s Vladimir Guerrero Jr. second at +375.
Since May 18, Ohtani has generated 49% of the total number of tickets and 80% of the total dollars wagered among all AL MVP bets at William Hill. Since this market was first up on Feb. 17, he still leads the way in both total number of tickets (26%) and total dollars wagered (53%).
Ohtani is also at +700 to be the MLB regular season home run leader, where he is the co-favorite with Ronald Acuna Jr. The Atlanta Braves outfielder entered the week with 15 homers, while Ohtani and Texas Rangers outfielder Adolis Garcia were one behind at 14 apiece. Garcia is tied for the sixth-lowest odds at +1800 with Nick Castellanos, Pete Alonso, J.D. Martinez, and Yordan Alvarez
Can a player on a weak team win the MVP award?
Yes. Trout did it three times.
And as good as Ohtani has been, the Angels are not a good team. They entered the last week of May 2-5 without Trout, 20-27 overall and plopped in the AL West basement. Without Trout, teams will soon start expanding Ohtani’s strike zone.
Ohtani rolls at all the books
While the Trout injury helped Ohtani become the favorite, DraftKings bettors were already pushing his number down close to the favorite position.
Ohtani went from +3300 to +2000 by Opening Day and surged to +1000 within a month. He steadily moved down and surged again when Trout got hurt.
FanDuel lists Ohtani as a +135 frontrunner. Guerrero Jr. is +450 and Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees is +2000.
BetMGM puts Ohtani in the lead at +115 while Vladamir Guerrero Jr is +500.
Third belongs to J.D. Martinez at +1400. Trout is tied with him.
Trout’s vulnerability is the long absence.
The Jacob deGrom injury scare
In a related tale of MVP woe, Jacob deGrom suffered an injury scare with right-side pain forcing him to miss two starts. But he scheduled a late May return.
He is +800 to win NL MVP at Bet MGM. As of Wednesday, only Acuna Jr. (+300) and Fernando Tatis Jr. of the San Diego Padres (+600) had better odds.
Yet his record is what insanity looks like.
Then there is the NL Cy Young race. It’s logical that the Mets phenom (-125) is well above Corbin Burnes of the Milwaukee Brewers (+450) and reigning titleholder Trevor Bauer of the Los Angeles Dodgers (+1600) on the prop.
But here’s where logic disappears: what he’s done and what he shows.
deGrom has pitched 45 innings and struck out 74 batters. He’s given up four earned runs. That’s right, four.
As of Wednesday, he has an unbelievable 0.80 ERA. And that’s not even his lowest number. The WHIP, baserunners allowed per nine innings, was 0.60.
This is historic. It’s unlikely that a pitcher’s earned-run average AND whip have ever been 1.28 during the second quarter of the season.
This is vintage dominance from a two-time Cy Young award winner the Mets are wasting.
Look at the win-loss record. He’s 3-2. How do you give up three total runs in six starts and lose two games?
And that’s been his career. In 2018, deGrom won the Cy Young with a 1.70 ERA and 0.91 WHIP. Hall-of-fame numbers. And he went 10-9.
deGrom may file a police report for abandonment. But bettors have been cashing in by taking the Mets’ runs under whenever he pitches.
That should change soon enough.
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong