We are spoiled. We get to watch Shohei Ohtani play baseball every day.
For my money, because of what he can do both in the batter’s box and on the mound, he’s the best player in baseball. Ever. Don’t @ me. I’m sorry, but Babe Ruth couldn’t hit a 100 on the gun.
The Los Angeles Angels' two-way star already has one MVP award under his belt, and is atop the AL MVP odds board as we kick off June. We’ve always known what Ohtani can do with the bat, but he now seems to be reaching his full potential as a pitcher as well.
So, is his first Cy Young award within reach? Or the better question may be, can he win both awards in the same season?
And wouldn’t you know it, sportsbooks have posted MLB odds for just that. Let’s look at what Ohtani’s chances are to pull off this rare feat.
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Shohei Ohtani odds to win AL Cy Young and MVP
Odds courtesy of Caesars Sportsbook as of June 2, 2023
Shohei Ohtani AL MVP odds
|Vladimir Guerrero Jr.||+1,600
It’s funny. Ohtani began his career as a monster hitter who was a pretty good pitcher. And now it seems to have switched. But as long as he keeps putting up solid offensive numbers while being an elite starting pitcher then he will be a perennial MVP candidate.
Ohtani may not be the best hitter in the American League, but he’s not far off. When he won the MVP in 2021 he hit .257 with a .965 OPS and 46 home runs. He’s on pace to put up similar numbers in 2023. The Angels slugger entered June hitting .269 with a .882 OPS and has already swatted 15 dingers through 55 games.
Shohei Ohtani AL Cy Young odds
While Ohtani has basically just done his thing at the plate ever since he’s been in the Big Leagues, his pitching has seen improvement with each passing season. In his MVP season, he pitched to a 3.18 ERA, limited opponents to a .207 batting average and struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings.
This season, he’s added a sweeper to his pitching arsenal, and it’s already one of baseball's most unhittable pitches. Mix that with a four-seamer that averages 97.3 miles per hour and he’s giving opposing hitters fits. Through 11 starts he owns a 2.81 ERA, is holding opponents to a crazy-low .155 batting average, and his strikeouts per nine innings is up to 12.8.
Will Shohei Ohtani win MVP and Cy Young honors?
When you think about guys winning both the MVP and the Cy Young award in the same season, it usually means it was a year in which there was an extremely dominant pitcher combined with no real standout performance from a position player. So Ohtani kind of bucks the thinking in that sense.
It has only happened 11 times since the Cy Young was first handed out in 1956. The last player to accomplish the feat was Los Angeles Dodgers starter Clayton Kershaw in 2014. The last time it happened in the American League was when Justin Verlander did it with the Detroit Tigers in 2011. Before that, the last player to win both in the same season was Oakland A’s Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley in 1992.
That means we’ve had someone win both the MVP and the Cy Young award in the same year just twice in the last 30 years. So, in that sense, the “Yes” for Ohtani to capture both in 2023 sitting at +900 doesn’t seem like great value.
That said, can he actually pull it off?
The MVP for Ohtani isn’t the problem. As long as he remains an elite hitter and pitcher, and Aaron Judge doesn’t break all his records from last season, he should be the AL MVP. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ohtani had four or five by the time his career was done. There is just no one in baseball doing anything close to what Ohtani is doing.
Shohei Ohtani has hit more home runs since 2021 than any other American League player except Aaron Judge.— Codify (@CodifyBaseball) May 31, 2023
Shohei Ohtani has struck out more batters since 2021 than any other AL pitcher except Gerrit Cole and Dylan Cease.
It's insane. ????pic.twitter.com/avrux8f8F3
For me, it’s the Cy Young that’s the tricky part. Don’t get me wrong; Ohtani can definitely do it. And it’s impressive he’s the third favorite to win the award according to Cy Young odds. It’s just the competition for the Cy Young looks really fierce in 2023.
Right now, Ohtani leads the AL in strikeouts per nine and hits per nine and is second in WHIP. But he is currently ninth in ERA, and he isn’t in the Top 10 in FIP, and he’ll never be among the leaders in innings pitched.
Currently, Ohtani’s biggest competition is coming from Tampa Bay’s Shane McClanahan and New York’s Gerrit Cole. McClanahan is the favorite (+350). He is second in ERA, third in strikeouts, and is the best pitcher on the best team in baseball. Then there is Cole, who shockingly has never won the award. He’s the second favorite (+400), ranks 10th in ERA and fifth in strikeouts.
But don’t overlook guys further down the board like the Twins' Sonny Gray and the Blue Jays' Kevin Gausman, who have put up very impressive numbers through the first two months of the season and rank first and second respectively in the AL when it comes to FIP and are both striking out more than 10 batters per nine.
Like I said, there is just so much competition in the Cy Young race and I don’t believe +900 is the proper value for Ohtani to win both awards. That’s a 10% implied probability. And I just don’t see it. I’ll stick with Ohtani to win his second MVP as my best bet, which you can still get at -125.
My best bet: Shohei Ohtani to win AL MVP (-125)