During most years, there is a heated debate about who should win the MVP award. There was the Miguel Cabrera-Mike Trout debate. Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger. Derek Jeter and Justin Morneau. But this season has been entirely different. There is no debate. This isn’t even a race anymore. Shohei Ohtani is the AL MVP, and there are no two ways about it.
What has Shohei done that makes him so special?
What Ohtani is doing this season is nothing short of historic. His dominance both on the mound and at the plate has surpassed even The Great Bambino himself. Not only is Shohei crushing bombs at a historic pace, but he is also going to the mound every fifth day and pitching gems.
If you take away his awful start against the Yankees, his ERA would be at an astonishing 2.18! He provides stability to a shaky Angels rotation. The rotation is terrible even with Ohtani pitching. It’s hard to imagine how bad they would be without him.
Not only has Ohtani both hit and pitched, but he has also done it in the same game! Last week against Detroit, he pitched eight remarkable innings allowing only one run and striking out eight. He then came up to bat in the top of the eighth and proceeded to crush a 110.1 mph, 430-foot homer that gave the Angels a 3-1 cushion late in the game.
It’s that type of impact which makes Sho-time so special. He can shut down hitters on the opposing team and then crush a moonshot off your pitchers. He literally wins the game on both sides of the ball.
Pitching-wise, Ohtani has been the ace for an Angels team in dire need of some pitching depth for what seems like forever. Ohtani has pitched against some of the best hurlers in baseball today. He has gone head to head with the likes of Jose Berrios, Kevin Gausman, Lance McCullers Jr., and German Marquez, all pitchers who are of All-star caliber. He has even outdueled them to a degree.
His stats really show how great he’s been. In 100 innings pitched, Ohtani is 8-1 a 2.79 ERA, a 1.06 WHIP, and 120 K’s. That is ace material right there.
He’s been terrific on the mound, but what about at the plate?
His hitting, however, has been so good that even without his pitching prowess he still would be a top-three candidate for the MVP award. His slash line of .269/.363/.638/1.001 is incredible. Ohtani leads the AL in slugging and is percentage points behind Vladdy for the AL OPS lead. Oh yeah, he’s also the MLB leader in home runs with 40.
Even with a minor August slump, he’s still projected to hit 53 dingers. That’s more than 20 higher than the previous record for a Japanese-born player, a record held by Hideki Matsui, who hit 31 way back in 2004.
Who are the other MVP contenders?
Shohei’s been great, but the MVP is no more than his challengers, right? While Vladimir Geurrero Jr., the main challenger to his throne this season, would be MVP almost any other year, he’s not anywhere close to winning the award this year due to Ohtani’s excellence. Vladdy is top-ten in almost every statistical category this year and has an outside shot at the triple crown, yet is being thoroughly overshadowed by Ohtani’s stellar play.
Guerrero Jr. has been the driving force of baseball’s best lineup this season. He has lived up to the hype and then some. With a .312 batting average, 35 homers, 89 RBI’s, and his MLB-leading OPS, Vlad has been feasting on opposing pitchers with ease. This is one of the best offensive seasons we’ve seen in a long time. Unfortunately for him, Shohei Ohtani exists. As great as Guerrero has been, Ohtani has the award in his grasp and will not give it up anytime soon.
Even the projected third-place finisher in the MVP race is having an incredible season. Boston Red Sox third baseman Rafael Devers has been mashing all season long. Devers is the best third baseman in baseball, having overtaken the likes of Nolan Arenado, Jose Ramirez, Anthony Rendon, and Alex Bregman for the title of the best third baseman.
Before his recent slump, he was batting .285 with 29 HR and an MLB-leading 89 runs batted in. Even with his recent cooldown, he’s still near the top of many major categories. Raffy is top 10 in homers, doubles, RBI’s, slugging, and OPS. And even with the tremendous season, he is having, Ohtani has completely overshadowed him.
Shohei is completely overshadowing players who are having career years, players who would have a real shot to win MVP almost any other year. He is chewing up and spitting out his challengers, dominating the MVP race with ease.
Ohtani has had a season like no other. He has been a world-class hitter. He has been a bona fide ace on the mound. There is nothing this man can’t do. There is no precedent to what he’s doing. He is having one of the greatest seasons of all time, and the MVP award will have his name on it soon enough.