Aaron Judge is clear MVP despite Shohei Ohtani's brilliance

Aaron Judge is clear MVP despite Shohei Ohtani’s brilliance

MILWAUKEE — I keep hearing from Californians that there’s an East Coast bias and the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani needs to be seriously considered to win the American League MVP. Sorry if this reveals my bias, but I’m starting to think all that avocado toast must be affecting their thinking.

Is Ohtani the most amazing baseball player we’ve seen? Very likely. Is he the most versatile player? Most definitely.

But is he most valuable? Logic, precedence and common sense say no. Not this year. No way, no how.

Is he even the best player this year? The numbers tell us no, too.

If anyone has an obvious bias, it’s the surfer dudes, soap opera wannabes and space cowboys out there. As far as I look, as much as I try, I can find no justification to vote for anyone but Aaron Judge for MVP.

I can opine on this subject freely, as I have been relegated to NL Rookie of the Year vote this year. I am not complaining. That’s the way it should be. That’s because there is no East Coast bias — at least not in the voting system.

I personally may have some very small, nearly imperceptible bias, though I once supported Ohtani over Miguel Andujar in a close Rookie of the Year race, and I stumped for Ohtani as MVP last year. But the voting bloc as an entity and the voting system definitely do not have bias. If it is biased, history tells us it tips West.

Aaron Judge
Aaron Judge is the clear choice for MVP.
Getty Images

Every team’s city gets two votes for each award. That includes New York, the greatest city in the world (sorry, couldn’t resist), and also Anaheim, which isn’t even really a city, but an endless playground of amusement parks and goofy theme motels.

If Californians are off base suggesting Ohtani should win again, they aren’t even in the ballpark claiming there’s East Coast bias in the voting system. The Angels win many more MVP awards than actual playoff games. Over a decade it’s 4-0 for personal hardware.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have to cheat like crazy to win the MVP. Alex Rodriguez is their only MVP since Don Mattingly won the award legitimately back in 1985. None of the Core Four ever won. The Mets? In 60 years they’ve never had an MVP. Back in 1988, the Mets had two guys in the hunt, yet the award went to Kirk Gibson, who hit one memorable home run, pumped his fists a few times as he limped around the bases and made room on his mantle for the prestigious honor .

The West Coast is award central. Half the Dodgers’ roster seems to have won the award. And remember when the Dodgers won the Rookie of the Year award many years running? If anything, there’s a case for California bias.

But we don’t complain. As we East Coasters say, it is what it is.

Sure, players on non-contending teams can win some years, which is how Angels star Mike Trout fairly is the most decorated active player, and how Ohtani rightfully won last year. But that only happens when there are no players even close on the contending teams. In this case, not only is there a player who’s close but also there is a player who’s outdoing everyone. Judge’s year is one of the greatest ever. I’ve covered this game long enough that as a beat guy I’ve seen a ton. But I’ve never seen anything like this.

Judge is having Roger Maris’ season, but he’s hitting 40 points higher. Judge is also doing it without Mickey Mantle batting behind him. Judge has watched all the other good Yankees go down with various injuries, at one time or another, and he keeps getting better.


Everything to know about Aaron Judge and his chase for the home run record:


Judge is a 9.1 WAR player, which puts him ahead of Ohtani and on pace to join Trout and Mookie Betts as the only active 10 WAR players. That 9.1 WAR means he’s responsible for 9-plus wins, which means without him the first-place Yankees would be in third place, or exactly what this poor-prognosticating East Coaster predicted for them.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani
PA

Without Ohtani, the Angels still would be playing for nothing since June. He’s valuable, all right, valuable in the sense that owner Arte Moreno will get many more millions for his team when he sells it.

Judge may not be as versatile at Ohtani, but he leads the league in RBIs (and every other meaningful offensive category) from the Nos. 1 and 2 holes, which ain’t easy. And he plays an outstanding center field, which is the Yankees’ one position of defensive need.

Mostly, he hits valuable home runs. He entered play Friday with 57, or 19 more than anyone else (or exactly 50 percent more). It’s also 57 more meaningful dingers than Ohtani, whose great two-way exploits fit into the land of Disney, more for fun and show than true value, at least this year.

Out in La-La Land, they claim we voters may have Ohtani fatigue. The only thing we over here are tiring of is their claim of East Coast bias when they keep winning all the awards without winning any meaningful games.

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