Dodgers Designated Hitter Shohei Ohtani Leads NL MVP Race
Shohei Ohtani
Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports

As the MLB season approaches the All-Star break, the National League MVP race is heating up between Shohei Ohtani, Bryce Harper, and Mookie Betts.

Despite not playing the field, Shohei Ohtani has emerged as the favorite to win the 2024 NL MVP award. The two-time AL MVP has been dominant at the plate for the Dodgers, hitting .316 with 27 home runs, 64 RBIs, 70 runs scored, and a league-leading 1.035 OPS. Ohtani’s odds have shortened from -105 to -230 in the past week as he continues to produce at the plate.

Shohei Ohtani made history in 2023 by becoming the first player to win the American League MVP award as a designated hitter, despite also contributing as a starting pitcher and outfielder. In 2022, Ohtani played 126 out of 155 games (81.29%) as a DH while also pitching in 23 games and playing seven games in the outfield. The following year, he won his second consecutive MVP award, playing 134 out of 135 games as a DH and pitching in 23 games. No player in MLB history has ever won an MVP award without playing a game on the field.

Bryce Harper, Philadelphia Phillies

Bryce Harper, the reigning NL MVP, has seen his odds decline to +850 due to a delayed start to the season and recent injuries. The Phillies star is batting .303 with 20 home runs, 58 RBIs, and 52 runs scored in just 76 games but is recovering from a hamstring strain that will see him miss action through July 9th.

Mookie Betts, Los Angeles Dodgers

Mookie Betts, Ohtani’s Dodgers teammate, has also been affected by injuries, with his odds dropping to +1300 per Skins gambling sportsbook. Through 72 games, Betts is hitting .304 with ten home runs, 40 RBIs, and 50 runs scored, but is currently sidelined with a fractured hand, which he suffered against the Kansas City Royals on June 16. Betts is expected to return in early August.

Ohtani Contract

After much speculation and false rumors that he was on a plane to Toronto to sign with the Blue Jays, Ohtani surprised everyone by signing a record-breaking 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers during the offseason. The deal includes an unprecedented deferral of $680 million between 2034 and 2043. Ohtani will receive just $2 million per season over the contract’s life, with the remaining $68 million deferred annually without interest.

The contract also includes a no-trade clause and a “key man” provision that allows Ohtani to opt-out if Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman or controlling owner Mark Walter leave the organization. Additionally, Ohtani will have a suite at Dodger Stadium for all home games and will be provided with an interpreter.


In March 2024, Shohei Ohtani was entangled in a high-profile scandal involving his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. Federal authorities accused Mizuhara of stealing $16 million from Ohtani’s bank account to cover his gambling debts with an illegal bookmaker in Orange County.

Mizuhara, who had been Ohtani’s interpreter since the player joined the Angels in 2017, allegedly manipulated Ohtani’s bank account and misrepresented himself in communications with the bank to conceal the embezzlement. Ohtani vehemently denied any involvement in sports betting or knowledge of Mizuhara’s gambling activities, asserting that he was unaware of the missing funds until a team meeting.

The scandal led to Mizuhara’s swift dismissal by the Dodgers, severing his professional relationship with Ohtani. Mizuhara initially claimed that Ohtani was aware of and aiding in settling his gambling debts but later retracted his statement and admitted to having a gambling addiction. Prosecutors confirmed Ohtani’s status as a victim, emphasizing his lack of involvement in Mizuhara’s deceptive practices.

MLB investigated the matter, exonerating Ohtani from wrongdoing and affirming his victim status. Mizuhara pleaded guilty to bank and tax fraud and faced severe legal consequences, including a potential 33-year prison sentence and significant financial penalties.

American League MVP Race

In the American League, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge runs away with the MVP race. His odds have shortened to -270, and he is batting .316 with 31 home runs, 82 RBIs, and 65 runs scored. Judge leads the AL in bets for the award, followed by Juan Soto and Gunnar Henderson. Soto’s odds have tumbled from +550 to +1600, while Henderson, at +350, is Judge’s most prominent challenge.