Before someone gets it wrong and accuses me of denigrating Vladimir Guerrero Jr., let’s be clear: he’s awesome. He is one of the best young stars in football and has had a sensational season. The Toronto Blue Jays first baseman deserves all the accolades he has received.
But he’s not the American League MVP.
Not this year.
While some have been inclined to push the narrative that Guerrero is making a run for the MVP award that seemed to be concluded by Ohtani over the summer, from my perspective nothing has changed.
Guerrero simply takes second place.
I have voted for the MVP several times, but I am not this year, which is why I can share my opinion now instead of keeping it to myself until the results are announced on November 18th.
Normally I choose the player who I think has had the best season. Period. I don’t think being “valuable” has anything to do with how good your teammates are, and I don’t know how the word has come to mean that to so many people.
Let’s say you are looking at two piles of money. We’ve got a bunch of $ 1 bills and a $ 20 bill. The other has a stack of $ 5 bills and a $ 10 bill. You can choose the most “valuable” bill from these piles. Which one do you want?
Is the $ 20 somehow depreciated because it’s sitting with a bunch of $ 1? It is still the most valuable invoice.
Does a car gain more value based on the car parked next to it? Does a watch gain more value depending on the shirt you wear?
Considering this, I totally reject any idea that Guerrero is more valuable than Ohtani because Guerrero’s teammates have been better than Ohtani’s teammates.
I also reject the “triple crown argument”. The value Guerrero produced does not change if he ends up with one more home run or one less home run than Salvador Perez.
Also, Perez is 10 RBIs ahead of Guerrero, so he won’t win the Triple Crown. He’s also tied with Perez for home runs and two points behind Yuli Gurriel for batting average.
We can forget the Triple Crown.
So now that we’ve removed the noise in the debate, the only question is whether Ohtani has had a better season than Guerrero.
While I don’t think WAR is a flawless stat or one that should be used blindly, it’s a good place to start nonetheless. According to Baseball-Reference, Ohtani has a WAR of 8.5, well ahead of Guerrero’s 6.8. FanGraphs brought Ohtani with a smaller, but still significant advantage: 7.9-6.6.
The reason Ohtani has an advantage over Guerrero, who was a slightly better hitter, is that… Ohtani is pitching.
Yes, there’s the Captain Obvious point you’ve been waiting to read all this time.
The mere fact that Ohtani did something that no player has done in over 100 years should be enough for him to get the MVP.
At the All-Star Game, Ohtani was the main subject of all the best players in the world because they all know how amazing it is for him to do what he has done.
It’s not just a gimmick. A guy who’s a hitter and can pitch well enough to work an inning here or there is a curiosity. The same goes for a pitcher who finds a way to hit a few home runs every now and then.
It’s not Ohtani.
Ohtani is one of the majors’ best hitters. And he’s one of the majors’ best pitchers.
If he was mediocre, if not average, on one side or the other, there would be a much better case for giving the MVP to a player who is simply the best player ever.
But Ohtani is not that.
He ranks second in the league with a .966 OPS. Guerrero leads with a score of 1.006. Ohtani has a 3.18 ERA, which was the seventh-best in the league for pitchers with at least 130 innings until Sunday. He’s 67 innings behind league leader Robbie Ray, who also leads the league in ERA because the Angels gave Ohtani more rest than other pitchers to accommodate his shots.
It’s fair to count that against him by only comparing him to other pitchers, which is why he’s never really been a Cy Young Award nominee. But when compared to all players, the fact that he throws and hits at a high level is a huge plus.
It’s a plus that no one else has.
It is worth the MVP.
Angels (LHP Packy Naughton, 0-3, 5.23 ERA) at Rangers (RHP AJ Alexy, 2-1, 5:00 a.m.), Tuesday, 5:05 p.m., Bally Sports West, 8:30 a.m.