Shohei Ohtani Following MVP Season with Great Year, But He’s No Aaron Judge

Posted on: September 18, 2022, 04:58h. 

Last updated on: September 19, 2022, 02:02h.

Aaron Judge cranked home runs No. 58 and 59 on the season Sunday afternoon in Milwaukee. That further cemented the New York Yankees slugger’s case to be the American League Most Valuable Player (MVP) this year. However, Shohei Ohtani, the reigning MVP, isn’t ready to give up his crown just yet.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani (17) rounds the bases after he hit a three-run home run against Kansas City on June 21 Royals at Angel Stadium. Despite his brilliance at the plate and on the mound this season, he remains a longshot to repeat as the AL MVP this season, thanks to Aaron Judge’s historic season. (Image: Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports)

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way star shined at the plate and on the mound in the Halos’ 2-1 win over playoff-contending Seattle. Ohtani pitched seven innings of shutout ball, limiting the Mariners to three hits and a walk while striking out eight. He also went 1-2 with an RBI double, a walk, and a run scored.

Nobody, except for the legendary Babe Ruth, has ever done what Ohtani has done at the major league level, and even the Bambino didn’t take off as a hitter until he stopped pitching full-time. Last year, Ohtani hit 46 home runs with an OPS (on-base-plus-slugging percentage) of .965 while also going 9-2 as a pitcher with a 3.18 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 130 innings pitched.

This year, his 34 homers rank fourth in the AL, and his 2.43 ERA is good for fifth. He’s also struck out 196 batters, good for third in the AL. It’s an impressive follow-up to the MVP campaign.

Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, a former Yankees coach, told reporters after the game Saturday night that Ohtani’s unique abilities as a hitter and pitcher make him the most valuable player in baseball.  Even Ohtani seems impressed with what he’s put up this season.

I don’t like to self-critique myself in any way,” Ohtani told reporters through an interpreter after the game. “One thing I could say is, overall, balance-wise, I’m having a better season this year than I had last year.”

Normally, what Ohtani’s doing would be good enough to become the 14th player in MLB history – and first since Miguel Cabrera in 2012 and 2013 – to win back-to-back MVP trophies.


Judge’s Season Topping Ohtani’s

But Judge is producing his own historic season this year. Sunday, part of a 4-for-5 game, his two homers put him on a pace to hit 65 and shatter the AL and Yankee team record of 61 set by Roger Maris some 61 years ago.

He also entered Sunday leading the AL in several other major offensive categories, including on-base percentage (.415), slugging percentage (.687), OPS (1.102), runs scored 119, and RBI (123). His .312 batting average entering is also third in the league, giving him an outside shot at a rare triple crown season. Cabrera had the last one in 2012, and the last one before that was in 1967.

Perhaps more importantly, Judge entered Sunday with a 9.2 wins above replacement (WAR) rating this season, according to Baseball Reference. Ohtani’s WAR, which factors in both his pitching and hitting, is 8.7. At FanGraphs, it’s a wider gap between the two, with Judge at 9.9 and Ohtani at 8.6. Both are outstanding and are easily the top two in the majors this season. However, that also shows just how valuable Judge has been for the Yankees this season.

Another factor in Judge’s favor is team success. He is the best player on the team leading the AL East, while Ohtani’s Angels entered Sunday 19 games under .500.

Odds Squarely in Judge’s Favor

At most sportsbooks, Judge is the runaway favorite to win the AL MVP. At FanDuel, the Yanks star is currently available at -6000, meaning a $100 bet would net $1.67. BetMGM and PointsBet offer Judge at -5000, which would produce a $2 return on a $100 bet.

For the value bettor, Caesars is offering Judge at -2500.

This past week, PointsBet announced it would payout bettors who held wagers placed on Judge.

Of course, the MVP isn’t decided by stats. Voters decide it at the end of the regular season. So, Ohtani still has a couple of weeks to influence voters, even though the odds, literally, seem against that.

But for those who think Ohtani has a chance, he’s available at +1500 at FanDuel and BetMGM.