American League MVP award debate continues

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Shohei Ohtani (Angels) and Aaron Judge (Yankees) both have American League MVP claims

Shohei Ohtani and Aaron Judge both claim American League MVP
Drawing: Getty Images

The American League MVP race is a two-horse race between Aaron Judge of the Yankees and Shohei Ohtani of the Angels. Depending on who you ask, the prize could go to either person. However, the inflexibility of Ohtani’s fans is far greater than that of the fans who support Judge.

While the consensus among Judge’s supporters seems to be “Sure Ohtani can punch and throw, but I think Judge should win MVP”, Ohtani’s defense seems to lie more along the lines of “If you don’t vote not for Ohtani, you should be banned from having an opinion on baseball forever” or “If he was the unanimous MVP last season, any season, even close to 2021, should result in an MVP for Ohtani as well. , these are hyperboles, but none of them are too far from the truth. Like, guys, calm down.

Personally, I have Ohtani above Judge in my MVP ranking, not that it matters at all, but it just shows that I’m not trying to be a one-off snowflake or play devil’s advocate. Thing is, Judge and Ohtani have crazy historic seasons and both should be recognized as MVPs. However, denying the greatness of any of these players only makes your side of the aisle unsafe. Refusing to give the light of day to anyone with an opposing point of view and claiming that they “just don’t know baseball” can only hurt your candidate’s MVP record.

We know the BBWAA can be very biased. Different journalists from different parts of the country tend to be more lenient towards their own players and award submissions. However, other factors can also play a role: rivalries, public perception, public outcry and personal bias. For me, I like the discipline of the plate. I’ve also always hated Bryce Harper (don’t ask why). Therefore, if I had had a vote in last year’s National League MVP race, I would have put Juan Soto in first place.

Basically, the public’s attachment to Shohei Ohtani is well deserved. He’s the best baseball player on the planet in my eyes and he’s doing things that no one has ever seen. However, firing Judge completely will only push people who are on the fence about him. It’s like any argument. It’s human nature to side with the side of argument that seems more rational, and the narrative of “if you don’t believe this, you shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion” is not only harsh, but unfair, and will still cause people to try to decide towards your opposition purely out of spite.

I understand that other factors may also come into play. Old-school voters love team success. Considering the Angels have already been knocked out of the playoffs, this will likely hurt Ohtani’s chances immensely. The fact that Judge plays with the Yankees will also be a factor. He’s having one of the greatest offensive seasons ever (he’s solid defensively and on the bases, too) in America’s biggest market. He’s center stage for the whole nation to see virtually every night and he’s surrounded by a lot of drama regarding his upcoming free agency. This makes it marketable. This makes it catchy and intriguing. He’s also never won an MVP before, and voters tend to turn away from people who have already racked up incredible success and award recognition like Ohtani.

Basically, as one-sided as it may seem to some people, the vote will be tight, really tight. As Ohtani’s supporter myself, I implore anyone who wants to dismiss the judge’s 60 home runs to reconsider for Ohtani’s sake. Blame Yankee Stadium for its size all you want, but Judge is having a historic season. Acknowledge that, and if voters end up picking the judge, walk away with grace. Ohtani’s skills will make him an MVP contender every year. Judge won’t hit 60 home runs every season, especially if he leaves the Yankees this offseason. He will be back and he will probably win several more MVP awards by the end of his career.

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