There’s being resilient in the playoffs, and then there’s whatever the Houston Astros seem to be every single postseason. After dropping the first two games of the American League Championship Series at home to the in-state rival Texas Rangers, the Astros responded with resounding road wins on Wednesday and Thursday to even things up at two games apiece. And, in doing so, Houston shook up the 2023 ALCS MVP odds.
Now, the Astros’ Yordan Álvarez — who has had a monster series as per usual — is the overwhelming favorite on the MLB lines to be named the 2023 ALCS MVP for the second time in three years. Now that Houston has wrested control of the series back from Texas and is favored to win, it makes sense that Vegas thinks Álvarez’s chances are so much better than anyone else’s.
But, if Texas can win two of these next three games (if necessary), then it’s likely that someone on the Rangers could usurp Álvarez and bring home the trophy. Even one of his teammates, like José Altuve or José Abreu — who hit an enormous three-run home run that was the difference in Game 4 — could steal the award if they step up over the next few days.
So, let’s run through each of the likely ALCS MVP candidates to see who is worth wagering on and who may be overblown a bit:
Yordan Álvarez: +225
As mentioned above, the 2023 ALCS MVP odds currently view this award as Álvarez’s to lose. He has a cool 1.244 OPS so far in the ALCS, a tick down from his ridiculous 1.783 OPS in the ALDS against the Minnesota Twins, in which he slugged four home runs. He already has two dingers against Texas and had one more robbed by Leody Taveras on an incredible play in Game 3. Even Álvarez’s outs — like a monster sac fly in Game 4 that also nearly went out of the park — are productive.
He’s pretty impossible to pitch against and seems to always be up when multiple runners are on base, which is a testament to how good Houston’s lineup is. For him to not win, the Rangers will likely need to win the series, and he’ll need to have an uncharacteristically rough close to the ALCS. The first event may happen, but it’s also hard to envision the second happening. He might still win even if Texas garners the pennant.
Corey Seager, José Altuve and Leody Taveras: +800
On the Rangers’ side, Seager and Taveras are the top candidates for MVP right now with the same scores and odds as perennial Astros’ postseason hero Altuve. Seager hasn’t done much so far this series so far — he’s 4-for-19 with a solo home run — but, then again, the Rangers’ bats outside of Josh Jung and Adolis García haven’t been all that great either. So, the runway is open for Seager, who was one of baseball’s best hitters this season, to make his case in Games 5, 6, and (maybe) 7.
Taveras has reached base in eight of his 13 plate appearances thus far and has been incredible in the field, highlighted by his astounding robbery in Game 3. Granted, it didn’t change the outcome of that game like it felt like it could, but it was still an enormous play that showcased what Taveras brings to the table. He’ll need more trademark moments like that and his critical Game 1 home run to have much of a chance here, though.
You can never count out Altuve. He has been an on-base machine against the Rangers and has scored a series-high five runs. Granted, Álvarez is usually driving him in. Still, Altuve has enough power on his own — and a propensity for massive hits in monumental moments — for him to compile a nice candidacy should his slugging teammate falter.
Jordan Montgomery (+1100) and Nathan Eovaldi (+1600)
The MLB standings and the Rangers’ place in them during the regular season, may obscure the fact that they have two of the hottest starting pitchers in baseball right now. Since coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals in a deadline deal, Montgomery — other than a rough start in the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles — has been lights out for Texas. He shut out Houston for 6 1/3 innings to get the win in Game 1 and is slated to take the mound again in Game 5 against Justin Verlander. If he fires another strong outing in that game and the Rangers win the series, Montgomery would be the leader in the clubhouse for MVP.
Texas also boasts Big Game Nate Eovaldi, who got the win in Game 2 and has won each of his three postseason starts while allowing just five runs. It’s unclear when he might pitch next, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he was used out of the bullpen in Game 5 because he would be on regular rest. Of course, that would likely take him out of starting either Game 6 or (if necessary) Game 7. Eovaldi has playoff bullpen experience — notably for the 2018 World Series-winning Boston Red Sox — but it could be challenging for him to be MVP if he only gets one start this series.
José Abreu: +1800
For most of the season, the thought of Abreu being involved in the 2023 ALCS MVP odds discussion would have been laughable. The veteran was really bad all the way up to September. Since then, he has essentially returned to his All-Star form from his White Sox days. He has hit four home runs in the playoffs, and his dinger in Game 4 more or less put the game away for Houston. Still, he needs to produce more in this series to have a remote shot at ALCS MVP, but it’s not crazy to think he gets a few more big hits the rest of the way that could push him over the top. At +1800, it’s excellent value.
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