by Ben Verlander
FOX Sports MLB Analyst
The debate about the 2022 AL MVP program has heated up recently. It’s one of the most divisive topics in sports, and for good reason; Both contenders have very impressive seasons.
Shuhei Ohtani He keeps doing things he’s never seen before. He puts big numbers on the board and cool numbers on the hill and he does it for a Los Angeles Angels The team that has been on the wrong side of the .500 for months.
Related: Watch Judge chase a home MLS record Thursday night against the Red Sox at 7:15 p.m. ET on FOX.
For some people, the argument becomes, “Are you really that valuable if your team doesn’t win?”
The answer is yes.
Baseball is different from other major American sports.
In basketball, if he’s the best player on your team, you’ll go into the playoffs. Think LeBron James. In his prime, he can go to any team at any time and make him a competitor.
In football, almost all MVPs are midfielders. If your team has the best QB, guess what? You are in the process of making the playoffs.
Baseball isn’t that way. You could have the best player in the world and still not play with a very good team. Over the past decade, the best player in the world has been Mike Trout. The Angels quarterback has won three MVP awards and played in one post-season series. Angels were swept in three matches.
In football, the league’s best player has only failed the playoffs twice: Johnny Unita in 1967 and Augie Simpson in 1973.
In basketball, it only happened once. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar is the only player in NBA history to win the Player of the Year award and not participate in the playoffs. It happened in the 1975-1976 season.
When was the last time that happened at a baseball game? Look no further than 2021, when the best player in both leagues missed the playoffs: Bryce Harper in the National League and Shohei Ohtani in the American League.
Shohei Ohtani vs Aaron Judge: AL MVP update as the race heats up
Ben Verlander and Alex Curry give a weekly update to the MLS Player of the Year as Judge and Otani make their case.
In the past six years, five of the 12 winning players in Major League Baseball have failed the playoffs.
You can’t blame a baseball player for the talent around him. If the Yankees & Angels replaced Judge Otani, the Angels wouldn’t be as good. The Yankees will likely win the Middle East squad. Why do we punish a player who surrounds him?
The reason for the big difference in baseball is that no matter how valuable you are, there are eight other players that need to be hit, and there are 27 players that need to be created on the other end. Most of the game is out of single player control.
But what if I told you that one player does both at the elite level? Isn’t this player generally considered the most “valuable” player in the league?
Well, that player is Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani’s value comes from his elite level shooting and hitting ability. And he doesn’t just do both as a gimmick; He’s really good at both.
You’re getting all that talent, all that value, from one spot on the shortlist. From this spot, you’ll get a bat in the middle of the lineup as well as an ace for your staff, as you leave an extra spot on the list, which adds value on its own.
Fried: 13 wins, 2.52 ERA (164 ERA+, which is 64% better than the league average), 159K, 2.79 FIP
Ohtani: 13 wins, 2.43 ERA (165 ERA+, 65% better than league average) 196K, 2.44 Fib
In the panel, Ohtani compares favorably with the Braves MVP . candidate Austin Riley.
Riley:.Hitting average 276, 34 hours, 92 RBIs, .891 OPS (143 OPS+, 43% better than league average)
Ohtani: .268 average, 34 hours, 89 RBIs, .891 OPS (148 OPS+, 48% better than the league average)
Shohei Ohtani continues to rewrite MLB history
Ben Verlander talks about Shohei Ohtani’s recent dominance of the hill and on the plate as he approaches a new landmark.
Is Otani going through an offensive season like the judge’s? No. But that was not the argument.
Judge definitely has a MVP season. It is almost certain that he will break the MLS record at home. He’s pressing down on his first triple crown since then Miguel Cabrera In 2012. He did it all while playing for the #1 Yankees.
But Ohtani is Max Fried plus Austin Riley in one.
As long as there is a player capable of throwing and hitting at the elite level, it will be hard to beat him. What Otani does is rare. It is unprecedented.
That is why I think the most valuable player is Shohei Ohtani.
Ben Verlander is an MLB Analyst at FOX Sports and host of “philippines batsPodcast. Verlander was an all-American at Old Dominion University before joining his brother, Justin, in Detroit as a 14th-round pick for the Tigers in 2013. He spent five years with the Tigers. Follow him on Twitter @Ben Verlander.
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