Major League Baseball
AL MVP Race: Cases for Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani; odds, stats, predictions
Major League Baseball

AL MVP Race: Cases for Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani; odds, stats, predictions

Updated Oct. 6, 2022 12:03 p.m. ET

The 2022 MLB season provided us with one of the most fascinating MVP races of all time.

On the West Coast, Los Angeles Angels pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani put together an absolutely unique season. He had a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 166 innings, making him one of the best pitchers in the world. He also hit 34 home runs at the plate and was 42% better than the average major-league hitter by wRC+ (weighted runs created plus). Essentially, Ohtani was a top-five pitcher and a top-15 hitter while doing both jobs full-time.

On the East Coast, New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge made history. He broke the American League home run record, swatting 62 home runs. He was easily the best hitter in the world, carried the Yankees all season and led baseball in Fangraphs WAR (11.4) by a wide margin.

During the season's final month, FOX Sports' staff of experts weighed in on each player's case for the award.


The definitive case for Shohei Ohtani

The only way we can measure Ohtani against others is to split him into two players, and both Ohtani the hitter and Ohtani the pitcher compare favorably to most of their peers. Those versions of him would be in the running for the MVP and Cy Young awards. There is precedent for players to win with production just like his.

The 2021 NL Cy Young winner, the Brewers' Corbin Burnes, finished that season with a 2.43 ERA over 167 innings. He was dominant enough to strike out 12.6 batters per nine innings. Ohtani the pitcher finished 2022 with 166 innings and a 2.33 ERA. He was dominant enough to strike out 12 batters per nine innings. This is a Cy Young-caliber season. 

Shohei Ohtani vs Aaron Judge: AL MVP update as the race heats up

Ben Verlander and Alex Curry give a weekly American League MVP update as both the Yankees’ Aaron Judge and Angels’ Shohei Ohtani continue to make their MVP cases.

The 2016 NL MVP, the Cubs' Kris Bryant, logged 39 homers and a 146 OPS+, 46% better than league average as a hitter after factoring in the league and ballparks in which he played. Yes, Bryant played the field, and Ohtani the hitter is a designated hitter. He's a DH who finished 2022 with 34 home runs and a 145 OPS+. This is an MVP-caliber season. 

For more on why Ohtani deserves to win, read Pedro Moura's full column.

The definitive case for Aaron Judge

Judge's offensive performance this year is light-years better than that of anyone else in baseball. Kyle Schwarber has 39 home runs, the second-most in baseball. He trails Judge by 20.

That 20-tater gap between leader and runner-up on the home run leaderboard is the largest in baseball history for a season that did not involve Babe Ruth.

From Aug. 2 to Sept. 3, the Yankees went 9-20, scoring an average of 3.29 runs per game. Over that span, Yankees not named Judge posted a .204 average, a .266 on-base percentage and a .304 slugging percentage, good for a microscopic .570 team OPS. During that same run of games, Judge tossed out a .282/.454/.608 line with an 1.063 OPS, contributing, per weighted runs created, to about a third of his team's runs. If that wasn't enough, he also started in center field for 11 of those games.

In the same situation, with that same level of immense pressure, Ohtani might've been just as good. But that's a guessing game. The fact of the matter is Judge was that good. He did those things; we saw them. For a month, he kept the world's most famous baseball team afloat, steering them clear of what would've been the single worst regular-season collapse in baseball history.

For more on why Aaron Judge deserves to win, read Jake Mintz's full column.

Ben Verlander on Shohei's case

FOX Sports MLB analyst Ben Verlander has been tracking Ohtani's numbers all year long.

Shohei Ohtani's historic season

Ben Verlander breaks down Shohei Ohtani’s incredible 2022 season, including a dominant late-season start on the mound.

For more on Shohei Ohtani's unprecedented season, read Ben Verlander's column.

Is it time for another award?

Both players are having years more than worthy of the award. Pedro Moura makes the case for a way to honor Ohtani as well as Judge.

"One possible path could be the creation of some sort of Hitter of the Year honor. Call it the Platinum Slugger, call it whatever you want, but have it supersede the nine hitters who win Silver Sluggers per league, much like the Platinum Glove does for each league’s nine Gold Gloves annually. Major League Baseball could let Baseball Writers’ Association of America members decide the winner, as is done for the Cy Young. Or it could be determined by fan vote, as is done for the Platinum Glove. That might drum up additional interest."

John Smoltz weighs in

John Smoltz reveals who's getting his vote for AL MVP during a discussion with Ben Verlander on "Flippin' Bats."

Judge makes history

Judge broke Roger Maris' American League record of 61 home runs in a season, which had stood since 1961. Deesha Thosar wrote about the moment.

Yankees' Aaron Judge hits 62nd home run of season

New York Yankees' Aaron Judge broke Roger Maris' American League record with his 62nd home run of 2022

MVP Odds

When it comes to gambling, FOX Bet is currently listing Judge at -10000 to win this year’s MVP honor (bet $10 to win $10.10 total), while Ohtani is +1300 (bet $10 to win $140 total).

Judge began the season with longer AL MVP odds than Ohtani (+2000 vs. +350). That changed June 5, when Judge notched his 21st home run. At the same time, Ohtani was putting up more modest numbers at the plate and on the mound while his Angels lost their 10th straight game. 

Our full betting breakdown is here. 


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