MILWAUKEE — As you can imagine, in Yankees Universe, there’s no debate over this year’s AL MVP.
Shohei Ohtani has the full respect of the Yankees.
Aaron Judge has his vote if he could cast one.
“I understand there will be a storyline over the next two weeks about who deserves MVP,” Yankees first baseman Anthony Rizzo said. following the judge 58e and 59e home runs of the year in Sunday’s 12-8 win over the Brewers.
“But it wasn’t done in that time,” Rizzo said of pursuing Roger Maris’ 61-year franchise and AL season record of 61 home runs “cleaned up like that (with) really no question marks about what’s happening in the game.
“It is really impressive.”
In voting for MVP, two members of the Baseball Writers’ Association from each American League city are assigned ballots.
(I’m not among them this year, but if I had a vote, it would go to the judge).
“I know there’s a debate about Ohtani,” Rizzo said. But when it comes to Judge, “it’s his season. It’s a special season.”
Ohtani and Bryce Harper were MVPs last year, on teams that didn’t make the playoffs.
There are seasons when the best player of the year clearly deserves the award, and there are seasons when “the most valuable” should win.
For all his unique talent as a puncher and starting ace, Ohtani’s team has been hopelessly out of action for months.
Judge has carried an injury-compromised club – despite having a sizable lead – to a division title, and he has been in the lineup for every game since August 5.
“The most valuable asset we’ve had this year, winning as many games as we have, has been Aaron,” Gerrit Cole said.
“I mean, when you talk about value, you have to take that into account.”
This season as a hitter, Ohtani has 34 home runs and 89 RBIs on Monday. As a pitcher, he boasts an impressive 13-8 record with a 2.43 ERA.
Yankees manager Aaron Boone acknowledged Ohtani could have a better year than 2021, when he was the unanimous AL MVP.
“But the judge has one for the ages.”
And if Judge passes Maris and becomes the first Triple Crown winner (leading the league in average, home runs and RBI) since Miguel Cabrera, at an AL East champion club, is there a realistic case for Ohtani? as the most valuable player in the league?
And it’s certainly no blow to Ohtani, a unicorn in every sense, whose dynamic two-way ability makes him a perennial MVP candidate.
But how is he more valuable to the Angels this season than Judge has been to the Yankees?
Add the added pressure of playing on MLB’s toughest stage, in a year of free agent walking, after being universally questioned for refusing a $213.5 million extension.
This is the year they made baseballs harder to blast out of the park.
An over-the-top defensive change is in effect until next year, and this isn’t an expansion year where they’ve added 20 or more minor league pitchers to big league teams.
Judge, 30, crushes him, while maintaining a straightforward focus that his manager admittedly takes him for granted.
“He’s kind of built for that,” Boone said. “I’m not worried about anything seeping in and affecting what he does.”
Of course, the judge has them. First was a big leaguer, then an All-Star.
“The most important thing is to win a championship. It’s still there, but we have time for that, ” Judge said, and you wonder if it’s an open door to stay in the stripes beyond. 2022.
“We have a team that can do it,” Judge said of a trip to the Canyon of Heroes. “So hopefully we’ll check that one out on the list.”