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The 2022 American League MVP Race is Great for Baseball

(Ronald Martinez / Getty Images)

The 2022 American League MVP Race is Great for Baseball

In 1960, Yankees outfielder Roger Maris narrowly won the AL Most Valuable Player Award by the skin of his teeth. The runner-up was his teammate, Hall of Famer Mickey Mantle. Maris topped Mantle by just two vote points earning 67% of the vote while Mantle earned 66%. 2022 could be a similar story.

With one month left in the 2022 season, there are two clear frontrunners for AL MVP. Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge is having a career year but so is Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani. Let’s dive into their statistics.

As of Sept. 4, Aaron Judge is batting .296/.399/.666 with 52 home runs and 114 runs batted in. He leads in every one of those categories with the exception of batting average. That’s reflected in his whopping league-leading 198 OPS+. With all these accolades he should run away with the MVP, right?

Once again, Shohei Ohtani is doing things that haven’t been done since the Deadball era. While not leading in any specific category, he is batting .266/.358/.522 with 30 home runs and 80 RBIs. That’s not all, he’s also 11-8 with a 2.58 ERA accompanied by a 2.58 WHIP and 1.044 FIP on the mound.

What separated Ohtani last year was his ability to hit 46 home runs while rocking an otherworldly 9.0 WAR. This season, his WAR sits at 7.6. Judge edges him out at 7.9. That’s scarily close for a tight MVP race.

It’s quite a conundrum. Judge has the epic statistics but can’t pitch a baseball at 100 mph. What helps is playing for a team that is most definitely playoff bound, despite their recent struggles. Ohtani is stuck with the useless Angels who are arguably wasting the talent of both him and Mike Trout.

So, who wins it in the end?

At the current pace Aaron Judge is performing, I’d say he’s your 2022 American League MVP winner. ESPN speculates he will end the season with 63 home runs and 139 Runs Batted In.

To put this into perspective, only five players have hit 60 or more in a season. The last time was Sammy Sosa with 64 in 2001. Simply put, the feat is incredibly rare.

I love Shohei Ohtani, but considering all the categories Judge leads in, and the team he plays for all factors into my decision for the elusive award. There still is a month left, however, and who knows what could happen.

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