Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani: American League MVP comes down to super slugger vs. two-way phenom – NewsUnfolded

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Five years after his historic rookie season, Aaron Judge finds himself back in the heart of the American League MVP voting. The 30-year-old super-slugger will find out if he picks up his first MVP award when the results are unveiled Thursday night.

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Judge broke the AL single-season home run record last season hitting 62 homers while slashing .311/.425/.686 and driving in 131 runs. The right fielder is the clear-cut favorite to win his first MVP award after leading the league in most offensive categories.

However, Angels’ two-way star Shohei Ohtani figures to make an intriguing case to take home his second consecutive MVP award. The 28-year-old cranked 34 homers and posted a slash line of .273/.356/.519. Ohtani also recorded a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts in 28 starts this season. Yordan Alvarez of the Astros is the third finalist for the award but is considered a long shot.

Despite Ohtani’s historic season, Judge’s behemoth — during his contract season — provided more value in a variety of ways. The slugger turned in a year of offensive performance that has never been seen in AL history while carrying a 99-win team into the postseason in the biggest market in the game.

Ohtani’s sparkling statistics as a two-way unicorn had little impact while doing it for the 73-win Angels who didn’t play a meaningful game after May. Judge’s 11.4 fWAR also beats out Ohtani’s 9.5 — although there are questions about exactly how the pitching value is measured.

Judge has received MVP votes in three of his six full seasons. He finished second in 2017 — the year of Houston’s sign-stealing scandal — to Astros’ star Jose Altuve, 12th in 2019 and fourth in 2021. The current free agent could add his first MVP award to his resume which is already figured to earn a lot of money. Judge turned down a seven-year, $213.5 million offer from the Yankees prior to the start of last season.

The award will be announced Thursday night at 6 p.m. ET on MLB Network.

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