The stars will align in Cleveland on Tuesday night for the 90th edition of the MLB All-Star Game. The game is set to get underway at 7:30 p.m. ET from Progressive Field in Cleveland.
Eight-time All-Star and Houston Astros ace Justin Verlander will draw the start for the American League, having posted a 10-4 record and 2.98 ERA this season. For the National, it will be the Dodgers Hyun-Jin Ryu on the hill, who boasts a 10-2 record and an MLB-leading 1.73 ERA. When it comes to big bats, there are plenty on both sides, including names like Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger and MLB home run leader Christian Yelich.
But who will emerge as the MVP of the MLB’s Midsummer Classic? FanDuel Sportsbook currently has Mike Trout — who won the award in 2014 and ‘15 — installed as the favorite at +950, with the next closest player being Yelich at +1100 and Bellinger close behind at +1200. Defending MVP Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros is listed at +2000.
MLB All-Star Game MVP Past Winners and Trends
When choosing a pick for MVP, going with a slugger is the best option. The last pitcher to win the award was Yankees closer Mariano Rivera in 2013. He had a little help, with it being the final All-Star appearance for the Hall of Famer. He pitched just a single scoreless inning as the American League won 3-0.
Before Rivera, Pedro Martinez was the last pitcher to win, and that came way back in 1999. At his home stadium at the time of Fenway Park, Martinez delivered two innings of work, striking out five while allowing no hits and no walks. That’s about as good as it can get for a pitcher in an All-Star game.
Houston Astros infielder Alex Bregman won the award last year, snapping a 10th inning tie with a two-run home run, making him the obvious choice for the MVP in his first appearance in the game.
Heroics helped Robinson Cano take home the award in 2017 as well, as he delivered a 10th inning solo-shot that helped the AL win 2-1.
MLB All-Star Game Best Bets for MVP
It’s clear that a pitcher is not the pick when betting on the All-Star Game MVP, but if there is one that could stun, it’s Clayton Kershaw. The Dodgers All-Star, who’s listed at a whopping +10000, missed the game for the first time since 2010 last season and has a little more motivation this time around.
“I think that’s a little bit more rewarding, especially after not getting to go last year,” Kershaw said.
Starters Ryu (+3400) and Verlander (+7000) would provide nice payouts as well.
Carlos Santana and Francisco Lindor both have the hometown narrative. Santana is slated to be the starter at first base and is listed at +2600 for the MVP. Lindor, who will get in the game off the bench, is +4400.
American League closer Brad Hand could be another hometown darkhorse candidate. If he enters the game late and impressively slams the door, he could be in line for the honor. He’s a huge long shot at +10000, as is Cleveland Indians late All-Star addition pitcher Shane Bieber, who has the same odds.
Face it, in an All-Star game the odds can only predict so much. Depending on how long a player is on the field — if at all — is a huge factor, and even when they are in action, their contributions could be zip in the short time. For example, if Yelich — who pulled out of the Homer Run Derby with an injury but is expected to play — pops out in his first at bat, the bet is likely done.
With the game featuring tight scores the last few years, a reserve off the bench who has the potential to drive in a winning run seems like a solid gamble. Joey Gallo (+6500) fits the bill as someone who could unexpectedly steal the spotlight late. With 20 homers this season and big-time power, the first-time All-Star could step in for a big dinger late.
Among the top-tier choices, look for Cubs spark plug and shortstop starter Javier Baez (+2400), a player who never shies away from the big moment, to be in the running.