Why the Astros’ trade for Shohei Ohtani could propel Kyle Tucker into the MVP race. There currently needs to be a more viable candidate for the 2023 American League MVP award. You nailed it: Shohei Ohtani, a Los Angeles Angels superstar.
As of Monday afternoon, the two-way star led the majors in home runs (34), OPS (1.051), slugging percentage (.665), and wins above replacement (6.5). He also ranks among the top five in runs batted in (73), strikeouts (139), and strikeouts per nine innings (11.9), and his season ERA is a solid 3.50. Ohtani is not sure to win his second MVP award in three years, despite having one of the most impressive seasons in the sport’s history.
The likelihood of Ohtani being traded increases as the Angels fall further out of playoff contention. Angels owner Arte Moreno was adamant about retaining Ohtani. With the three-time All-Star set to free agency in a few months, MLB Network’s Jon Morosi reports the club is now in “listening mode” regarding potential offers. If the Angels decide to trade Ohtani, it could allow another AL West All-Star, such as Houston Astros right fielder Kyle Tucker, to enter the MVP race.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Tucker shares the sixth-best odds to win AL MVP with Chicago White Sox outfielder Luis Robert Jr. at +4500 (i.e., a $100 wager would yield $4,500 in winnings). Ohtani is the favorite at -800, followed by Rangers shortstop Corey Seager (+1800), Rays shortstop Wander Franco (+3000), Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena (+3000), and Blue Jays shortstop Bo Bichette (+4000).
Tucker’s offensive stats—he has a.299/.377/.489 slash line with 14 home runs, 62 RBI, 48 runs, and 36 extra-base hits in 92 games—combined with his defensive prowess make him a strong candidate, and his performance in the face of injuries to other key Astros players—most notably Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez—further demonstrates his value. Tucker leads the AL in on-base percentage (.491) and ranks in the top five in OPS (1.180), batting average (.400), RBI (13), and hits (18) through 12 games this month.
The Houston Astros will commence a two-game series against the Colorado Rockies in Denver on Tuesday night.