The Vegas odds are out on the MLB end-of-season awards (via Bovada), and they’re...Actually pretty surprising. Not because Mookie Betts and David Ortiz are involved in the MVP race, or because Rick Porcello is in the mix for the Cy Young award, but because of the order they’re in.
The big surprise, really, is David Ortiz. It’s awfully tough for a designated hitter to even be considered for an award like MVP, but Ortiz is actually first, with 2/1 odds to take top prize ahead of Jose Altuve at 9/4 and Mookie Betts and Mike Trout at 4/1 each. Rick Porcello, for his part, comes in tied for second place with those same 2/1 odds, even with Corey Kluber and just a hair behind Chris Sale at 8/5.
So the same caveat applies here as with all Vegas odds. These are not simply predictions of what will happen, but some combination of that and predictions of how the body of gamblers will act. David Ortiz, for instance, might be the favorite not simply because Vegas expects him to win, but because they expect gamblers to expect him to win to the point where they’ll bet on him even at these less profitable odds. Even if Ortiz is really a 10/1 underdog, if Vegas thinks they can get a significant portion of those who would take the 10-to-1 odds to take the 2-to-1 odds, they can at once bring in almost as much money while minimizing their risk.
As such, something like David Ortiz’ exceptional story of putting on one of the best performances of his storied career in his final season might draw down the odds dramatically for Vegas while not actually influencing voters nearly so much as the fact that he doesn’t play defense.
It’s quite the complicated balancing act, and all will quickly become meaningless when the awards are actually announced. But it does give you an idea of what the people who actually have money riding on this sort of thing are thinking.