The MLS MVP is a two-horse race between the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and the Angels’ Shohei Ohtani. Depending on who you ask, the prize can go to anyone. However, Ohtani’s fans’ insistence is much greater than the fans’ support for Judge.
While the consensus among the jury’s supporters appears to be, “Sure, Otani can hit and throw, but I think the judge should win MVP,” Ohtani’s defense seems to lie more along the lines of “If you don’t vote for Otani, you should bar him from showing Opinion in Baseball Forever” or “If he was the unanimous MVP last season, any season approaching 2021 should result in Ohtani’s MVP too.” Those are clearly exaggerations, but neither is too far from the truth. Like, geez, calm down.
Personally, I have Ohtani higher than the judge in my MVP ratings, that’s not important at all, it just shows that I’m not trying to be a unique snowflake or playing devil’s advocate. The fact of the matter is that both Judge and Otani are going through crazy historical seasons and both should be given MVP ratings. However, denying the greatness of one of these players makes your side of the lane seem unsafe. Refusing to give anyone with an opposing viewpoint the light of day and claiming that they “don’t know baseball,” will only damage the status of your favorite candidate.
We know BBWAA can be very biased. Different reporters from different regions of the country tend to be more lenient with their players and award nominations. However, other factors can also play a role: rivalries, public perception, public anger, and personal biases. For me, I like the plate system. I also always hated Bryce Harper (don’t ask why). Hence, if I had had a vote in the National League Player of the Year race last year, I would have put Juan Soto first.
In essence, the audience’s attachment to Shohei Ohtani is well deserved. He’s the best baseball player on the planet in my eyes and he’s doing things no one has ever seen before. However, impeaching a judge entirely will only push the people on the fence about it. It’s like any argument. It’s human nature to side with the seemingly more rational argument, and telling “if you don’t believe this, you shouldn’t be allowed to have an opinion” is not only cruel, but unfair, and will still drive people trying to decide whether to oppose you is purely out of spite.
I understand that other factors may play a role as well. Old school voters love the team’s success. Considering how the Angels are already excluded from the attached feud, it likely hurt Ohtani’s chances significantly. The fact that the judge is playing the Yankees will also be a factor. He’s putting together one of the greatest offensive seasons ever (he’s strong defensively and on the core lanes too) in the biggest market in America. He’s center stage for the entire nation to see basically every night and has a lot of drama surrounding him regarding his upcoming free agency. This makes it marketable. This makes it striking and intriguing. He’s also never won an MVP before, and voters tend to shy away from people who have already reaped the incredible success and recognition that Ohtani has.
Basically, as one-sided voting is as it may seem to some people, voting is going to be really, really close. As a pro-Otani, I would appeal to anyone who wants to turn down the 60-round Judge House to reconsider for Ohtani. Blame Yankee Stadium for its all-you-want dimensions, but the judge is going through a historic season. Admit it, and if voters end up choosing the judge, walk away gracefully. Ohtani’s skill set would make him an MVP nominee each year. Judge wouldn’t hit 60 home runs each season, especially if the Yankees left this off season. He’ll be back, and likely to win several MVP awards at the end of his career.