Why Aaron Judge winning AL MVP is a compliment to Shohei Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels, New York Yankees

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Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, two incredible players, are in heavy conversation of winning AL MVP. Only one can win this season, and both are deserving.

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani  have been in a heated battle for the American League MVP award all season. Only one can win, and though both are highly deserving of the award, Judge seems like he might be pulling away as he chases the AL home run record. And that’s actually a huge compliment to Ohtani.

It sounds counterintuitive, but Ohtani was a favorite to win AL MVP for the second year in a row before Judge stepped up and started crushing history. For the two to be in the running together is a huge accomplishment in itself. Ohtani can pitch and hit extremely well, which is a rare find in the league considering most pitchers don’t hit at all.

Judge is having an incredible season and breaking history as he goes. He’s now in contention for the Triple Crown, one of the most elite MLB awards that only 10 players have earned in history. On Tuesday night, he reached 60 home runs this season and is on track to break the franchise and AL record of 61 set by Roger Maris in 1961.

He’s also the first player to reach 60 homers in a single season since Maris, so he’s taking his talent to an entirely different level that hardly anyone has ever been able to reach.

It would take historic measures to dethrone Angels ace Shohei Ohtani from AL MVP

Ohtani was widely considered the favorite to win before Judge crept his way up with 60 homers and counting along with potentially capturing the Triple Crown. For both to remain in contention with completely different feats is a huge win in itself.

However, there was hardly a question earlier in the season of whether or not Ohtani would win again this season. To highlight just how good he was (and still is), Jason Foster of Sporting News wrote a piece titled “Shohei Ohtani is the 2022 AL MVP until further notice, and it’s foolish to pretend otherwise”.

Foster emphasizes the fact that Ohtani is a two-way player and one of the bests at both hitting and pitching in the league. An average two-way hitter would be beneficial, but Ohtani takes that to a new level. The Angels clung onto him when several teams showed interest in him at the trade deadline.

Ohtani ranks fourth in the league in intentional walks and has the sixth-best FanGraphs WAR (5.0) among all pitchers. He also has the 12th-best offensive rating (31.1). He lines up well with some of the bests in the league in both aspects, making him two All-Star candidates in one.

People were talking about Ohtani and hardly anyone else in the earlier part of the season for good reasons. He was the buzz of MLB regardless of what others were achieving until Judge came into play.

It’s taking someone of an insanely elite caliber to replace him, and that should be taken as a compliment.

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