In Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani debate, team record proves a worthy tiebreaker

The 30 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America with votes to decide the AL MVP award have a wonderful decision to make.

They have the mighty Aaron Judge who carried the New York Yankees through much of this team’s slumping summer. He entered this weekend with 60 homers and the chance to win the AL Triple Crown.

It would be the first major leaguers since Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera in 2012 – who is the only one in 55 years since Carl Yastrzemski won the batting, home run and RBI titles for Boston in 1967.

The competition is Shohei Ohtani, the incredible combination of punching and throwing power for the Los Angeles Angels.

Ohtani was voted MVP in 2021, when there were no other candidates in the same universe, and his performance both ways has been better this season.

What’s amazing from here is that Judge, as an outfielder, and Ohtani, as a combination starting pitcher (starting No. 26 Friday against the Twins) and designated hitter, were playing their 146th games on Friday. evening.

How Ohtani can handle it physically, throwing and DHing when he starts, and DHing in everyone else, should blow baseball watchers away.

In addition, he is the fastest batter to go from home plate to first base in the American League.

And yet, if I had to vote, it would be up to the judge. The word “precious” is in the title for a reason for these baseball writers’ awards for both leagues dating back to 1931.

Your team doesn’t need to win a pennant to claim the prize, but when two candidates are as strong as these in the AL in 2022, the fact that the Yankees have 30 games above .500 and that the Angels have 20 fewer games should be allowed. to sway the debate.

And, “Yeah, but it’s the Yankees” doesn’t work as a counter argument, as they’ve dealt with a lot of injuries and long stretches where Judge was surrounded by a lot of outs.

I can see voters who will side with Ohtani due to the unique and demanding nature of his talent, but again, it’s not ‘Player of the Year’…it’s the most valuable.

If Judge were to lose in an upset, it wouldn’t be because Ted Williams was stripped of three MVPs in the 1940s – and twice as the winner of the Triple Crown.

Williams was an outspoken man in expressing his disrespect for sportswriters and those gentlemen – essentially, an all-male profession at the time – were vindictive.

He hit .406 in 1941, and he happened to be the last major league batter to hit .400. Joe DiMaggio of the Yankees had his record 56-game hitting streak that season. The 24 voters gave DiMaggio 291 points to Williams’ 254, even with Ted’s top numbers.

Williams won the Triple Crown in 1942, but he lost MVP to Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon, 270 to 249. Williams’ monstrous numbers in all categories eclipsed Gordon, but the Yankees won the pennant and sportswriters apparently had no hesitation in stealing Teddy. Ballgame in consecutive years.

The worst came in 1947, when Williams again won the Triple Crown, but lost to DiMaggio by a total of 202 votes to 201. Williams was left out one round of voting, back when the ballots were not publicly revealed.

Williams participated in the writing of a book in which he identified a Boston sportswriter with whom he had an argument as having voted him out of the ballot. Later research indicated that the writer did not have one of Boston’s three votes, and that the ballot on which Williams was absent came from “the West” (Chicago or St. Louis).

Teddy Ballgame won MVP awards in 1946 and 1949. But it could have been so much more in the 1940s. And with three more seasons (1943-45) missed as a Marine fighter pilot in World War II, it would have been a tough decade to beat in baseball history.

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