It is August 21st, there’s more than a month left of the season, and the Angels are going to miss the playoffs (again). Yet despite all of that, Shohei Ohtani has all but locked down the AL MVP award. Let’s look at his compelling case!
Ohtani currently leads the league in home runs (40), slugging (.644), and total bases (268). Pretty good for someone that just 3 years ago, scouts believed to be the equivalent of a high school hitter. Oh, and he also leads the league in being intentionally walked. At the start of the year, would anyone have imagined a pitcher leading in that category? His spring speed is also in the 92nd percentile, allowing him to turn singles into doubles and rack up infield singles.
His baseball savant page has more red than the wedding in Game of Thrones, showing multiple categories in the 99th and 100th percentile (see below). In a year where Trout and Rendon has missed substantial time, Shohei Ohtani has pretty much carried the entire Angels offense.
All this being said, if we were only comparing hitters, it’d be a much closer race. However, he can also do this…
While Shohei Ohtani probably isn’t going to win the Cy Young award, he’s right there in the middle of the conversation along with names such as Gerrit Cole and Lance Lynn. He’s 8-1 and the Angels are 12-6 in games he’s started. If his 100 innings qualifies, his 2.79 ERA would place him in second place. He’s also striking out just under 11 per 9 innings. And he’s trending in the right direction, dialing it up as of late. Here is where he stands among pitchers since July 1st.
1st in W-L record (5-0)
1st in ERA (1.58)
1st in WHIP (0.75)
1st in K/BB (9.3)
1st in Opp. OPS (.505)
Shohei’s got an exceptional arsenal. The expected batting average against him is just behind Gerrit Cole. Below is his pièce de résistance – the splitter, and how it looks when it’s overlaid with his fastball.
Ohtani’s biggest competition for the AL MVP is Toronto Blue Jay Vlad Jr – who is also having an incredible season. To date, Shohei’s racked up 8.1 WAR, which puts Vlad’s 5.0 in the dust. While it can easily be argued that Vlad Jr. is the better hitter, Shohei Ohtani’s WAR has the additional boost of his pitching. We’ve all heard the comparisons to Babe Ruth, but in the 21st century where we have access to the numbers, it’s becoming clear: Shohei is better. Vegas betting has Shohei Ohtani as the clear AL MVP winner and we’ve looked at some of the reasons why. So if you’re looking for a closer MVP race, you might want to check out the NL, because the AL MVP race is already over.