With less than two weeks remaining in the regular season, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani continues to make his case for 2021 American League MVP honors.
The 27-year-old hit his 45th home run of the season on Tuesday, pulling to within one of Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and Salvador Perez for the Major League lead.
Ohtani’s overall batting line of .257/.358/.593 with 75 extra-base hits, 95 RBI and 23 stolen bases is more than worthy of MVP consideration, but what separates him from the other candidates is his ability to pitch at a high level.
In 22 starts this season, Ohtani is 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA, 3.55 ERA and 1.11 WHIP across 123.1 innings. When combining his contributions on both sides of the ball, Ohtani’s 8.2 WAR is the most in baseball by a wide margin.
Angels manager Joe Maddon believes such a historic season makes Ohtani an easy pick for MVP, via Mike DiGiovanna of the L.A. Times:
“Ohtani is the MVP,” he said. “It’s just his entire body of work. Everything is there regarding what he’s done as a position player, but then you have this other thing, this additive to include, that nobody even comes close to.”
While Ohtani has been the MVP favorite for most of the season, the race has narrowed in recent weeks. Guerrero in particular has propelled the Toronto Blue Jays into playoff position and potentially could win the AL Triple Crown with a strong close to the regular season.
Maddon recognized the incredible season Guerrero is having but still thinks Ohtani should win MVP:
“What Vladdy Jr. is doing has been done,” Maddon said. “What Shohei is doing now has never been done. It’s just unparalleled. It’s one of the best years, maybe the best year in the history of the game, by a baseball player. If that’s not recognized independent of championships, then I don’t know when it would be.”
The AL MVP Award will be voted on by 30 members of the BBWAA at the end of the regular season. While an official date hasn’t been announced yet, the results will likely be announced sometime in November.
Ohtani hoping to pitch in more games this season
After being scratched from last Friday’s scheduled start against the Oakland Athletics due to general soreness, Ohtani returned to the mound two days later and struck out 10 batters over eight innings.
Ohtani now hopes to make one or two more starts this year before the Angels head home for the offseason.