As of early July, almost a quarter of all the money bet in the AL MVP market at BetMGM was on Los Angeles Angels megastar Shohei Ohtani. The 24.9 percent mark is the highest of any player in either league.
At that point, an Ohtani trade to the National League wasn't on the radar. But it is now.
With the Angels falling deeper into obscurity and the trade deadline approaching fast, the news cycle has shifted from who might land Juan Soto to possible Ohtani trades. On Thursday night, MLB Network spent a long time throwing out possible Ohtani trades for each team that could be a possible destination.
Everyone with an Ohtani MVP ticket is paying attention.
Could Shohei Ohtani get traded to NL?
As of Friday, Aaron Judge is the AL MVP favorite at BetMGM. He is -145, Ohtani is +110, Yordan Alvarez is 20-to-1 and nobody else is shorter than 30-to-1.
If Ohtani is traded to an NL team like the New York Mets or Los Angeles Dodgers, Judge's odds are going to change dramatically.
The main example of a player switching leagues and winning an award was 1984, when Rick Sutcliffe was traded from the Cleveland Indians to the Chicago Cubs. Sutcliffe was awesome with the Cubs and he won NL Cy Young. But that trade happened on June 13, giving Sutcliffe enough time to build up an NL resume. And he won with his new league.
A better comparison for Ohtani and a possible trade to the NL would be Mark McGwire. McGwire was traded from the Oakland A's to the St. Louis Cardinals during the 1997 season. He had 58 homers and 123 RBI combined that season, but just 24 homers and 42 RBI for the Cardinals in the NL. He tied for 16th in NL MVP voting behind players like Charles Johnson and Edgardo Alfonzo. McGwire didn't get a first-place vote.
Aaron Judge is current favorite
Nothing in the MVP voting ballot says combined stats can't be counted, but they haven't been before.
Judge is the current AL MVP favorite for good reason. On Thursday he had his third walk-off homer of the season for a New York Yankees team that is 67-33. Judge has 39 homers, which is seven more than anyone else in baseball. Ohtani's dual value is undeniable and he would be a fine MVP vote pretty much any season he plays, even on a bad Angels team. But if Judge hits 60 home runs for a 100-win Yankees team, that'll be hard for voters to pass on.
Perhaps Ohtani stays in the AL or doesn't get traded at all. It would take a massive offer to the Angels to move the biggest star baseball has. But as the deadline approaches, it's a unique situation to AL MVP bettors.