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The Great AL MVP Debate

Both channeling the Babe in pursuit of hardware

The 92nd MLB All-Star baseball game at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

Now that the World Series is over—with the Houston Astros grinding the Philadelphia Phillies to bits like they did to every other team this season—it will soon be time for MLB to hand out its 2022 hardware. In the American League, the ballot for Most Valuable Player is perhaps as stacked as 1941, when Joe DiMaggio (and his 56-game hitting streak) topped Ted Williams’ .406 batting average.

According to the official language of the BBWA MVP Award ballot: “There is no clear-cut definition of what Most Valuable means”. Gee—thanks for the help, folks. As such, it is worth examining the twin titans—both channeling Ruthian talents—of ‘22 AL excellence and see who would come out on top via official Twinkie Town balloting (i.e. public poll):

Los Angeles Angels v Minnesota Twins
Yes—he can run like the wind too
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Case for Shohei Ohtani...

  • 157 G, 34 HR, 11 SB, .273 BA, .875 OPS, 145 OPS+
  • 15-9, 2.33 ERA, 28 GS, 166 IP, 172 ERA+, 1.01 WHIP
  • 9.6 WAR

A two-way player like Ohtani should not, by almost any accounting imaginable, exist. When Babe Ruth was toeing the rubber and digging into the batter’s box some 100 years ago, it was a plausible feat: his competition was largely farm boys and hardscrabble characters. But now? The general state of athleticism is so ridiculously high that even the thought of dominating both sides of the ball seems asinine.

Yet, that is exactly what Ohtani does. As a hurler alone in ‘22, he’d be a legitimate Cy Young Award candidate. As a batter—a combination of power and speed that few possess. Put those two skill-sets together and you have a unicorn. To quote Kanye: no one man should have all that power.

New York Yankees v Minnesota Twins
All Rise...
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images

The Case for Aaron Judge...

  • 157 G, 177 H, 133 R, 62 HR, 131 RBI, .311 BA, 1.111 OPS, 211 OPS+
  • 10.6 WAR

Major League Baseball is about as offensively-challenged as it has been since the league experimented with mound height in 1968. The institution as a whole batted .243 in ‘22, with an average .706 OPS. What with advanced shifts and bullpens taking over games earlier and earlier, it is a difficult time to be swinging the lumber.

Apparently, this has no bearing on Aaron Judge. Not only did he put together a ‘22 campaign impressive for its time, but also for all-time. He passed the Bambino—tying Roger Maris—in single-season home runs and posted counting numbers that put the rest of the league to shame. While everyone else was struggling just to get by, Judge was thriving.

So, if you had a BBWA AL MVP vote, which box would you have checked...



This poll is closed

  • 43%
    (43 votes)
  • 57%
    (57 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now

My vote would go to the pinstriped Bomber, as I feel his complete and utter lapping of the competition puts him over the top. But I see the case for Ohtani as well—one could legitimately give him MVP every year that he pulls a reasonably successful double-duty act.