Why Shohei Ohtani is the AL MVP

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Shohei Ohtani is the modern version of Babe Ruth some experts have said. A force to be reckoned with at the plate with pitchers having nightmares about how to face him. Then every five days or so he takes the mound and shuts down the opposing team’s offense. In our lifetime we have never seen a player of this caliber play with this level of excellence. Because of this, Shohei Ohtani deserves the AL MVP with the stats that he has put up this season with the Angels.

Shohei Ohtani’s Monster Offensive Numbers

Shohei Ohtani’s offensive year was one very few star players have in a career. This year Ohtani racked up a .258 batting average, 45 home runs, 98 runs batted in, a .371 on-base percentage, and a .966 OPS. These stats are what fans want to see to determine someone deserves an MVP award. However, Ohtani does much more than just get on base he also has glaring speed.

Ohtani this season has seven triples which leads the American League, not to mention two of those triples came in back-to-back at-bats against the Mariners a few nights ago. Another stat that proves his need for speed is his 24 stolen bases on the year.

Ohtani has all the attributes to prove that he is a well-rounded offensive machine. But it shows where he stacks up against other caliber MVP candidates. Vladimir Guerrero Jr. right is the closest to take Ohtani’s MVP because he has led the Blue Jay back to be in the hunt for the playoffs. Guerrero Jr. is tied for first in home runs with 46. Ohtani currently sits second with 45 home runs so in the next couple of days Ohtani can pass him by. Guerrero Jr. ranks sixth in runs batted in with 105 and Ohtani is twelfth with 98 which is another stat that Ohtani can chase down.

What Ohtani has the Guerrero Jr. does not is his speed on the base paths and his ability to draw walks. Ohtani ranks third in the American League with 90 walks compared to Guerrero Jr.’s 84. Also, on-base Ohtani is a threat to steal bases as stated above, while Guerrero Jr. is not with only four stolen bases on the year.

Offensively Guerrero Jr. has been on the top of his game, however, the key factor that wins the MVP for Ohtani is the ability to be an ace in the Angels staff while putting up these offensive stats.

Ohtani’s Insane Pitching Stats

Now we turn to Ohtani’s pitching numbers throughout this year. He pitched in 23 games with 130.1 innings pitched with a record of nine and two. He also posted a 3.18 earned run average (ERA) with 156 strikeouts and only let up 44 walks.

Ohtani’s innings are not as high as some of the other top-end starting pitchers because of the Angels managing his innings to reduce the chance of injury and so that he can have more chances to solely focus on his offense.

His numbers stack up against some of the best American League pitchers which include Cy Young candidates Robbie Ray and Gerrit Cole.

Ray right now has a 2.68 ERA in 188 innings pitched with a thirteen and six record.  He also has 244 strikeouts to 49 walks on the season. Cole has a 3.08 ERA with a sixteen and eight record in 175.1 innings pitched. He has 237 strikeouts this season compared to 41 walks.

Now looking at these outstanding pitchers’ stats it is no surprise that they are significant favorites for the American League Cy Young Award. If Ohtani was predominantly a pitcher he would be in the conversation for this award. This is because he would have more opportunities to have more strikeouts and lower his ERA.

With the combination of his outstanding offensive numbers combined with his insane pitching numbers, it is hard to argue that Ohtani is not the AL MVP.

Ohtani Being the Heart and Soul of the Angels

Injury wise this has been another tough season for the Angels. Both Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon go down with season-ending injuries leaving Ohtani to carry the load this year.

Offensively Ohtani led almost every single offensive category including home runs, runs batted in, and on-base percentage.

Ohtani led the Angels throughout the year. His wins above replacement (WAR) is a 4.8 which leads the team by a significant margin. The next highest WAR is a 2.6 which is held by first basemen Jared Walsh (who leads the Angels in batting average). The simplest way to explain WAR is to FanGraphs is “to summarize a player’s total contributions to their team in one stat” according to FanGraphs. By almost doubling the next highest player’s WAR it shows without Ohtani in the lineup the team’s offense struggles.

When it comes to pitching Ohtani played an even more significant role. He was the ace of their staff and as stated above only pitched 130 innings. Most aces in pitching staffs usually pitch 180 innings or above.  

Ohtani led the team in innings, wins, strikeouts, and ERA all by a significant amount. What has hurt the Angels so much has been injuries again with Patrick Sandoval going on the 60-day injured list after the all-star break, in addition to other starters being on the injured list for short amounts of time.

When we look at the pitcher WAR Ohtani has a two-point lead over the next highest person in WAR which is Patrick Sandoval with a 2.1 WAR. This goes to show that the Angels would not have been close to 74 wins they currently have.

People may argue that Guerrero Jr. should win the AL MVP because of how much he has contributed to the Blue Jay’s success in the second half of the season that has put them in position for a playoff berth. However, Shohei Ohtani has shown the baseball world something we have not seen since Babe Ruth and has carried the Angels to a record that they would not come close to without his contributions.

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main image credit: Embed from Getty Images

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