The Los Angeles Angels defeated the Oakland Athletics on Thursday to cap off a sweep of their division opponent. However, the larger story was Shohei Ohtani flirting with a no-hitter, which would have turned the sprint for the Most Valuable Player award on its head.
Heading into the top of the eighth inning, Ohtani had been near-perfect. Aside from a walk to lead off the game to Athletic’s second baseman, Tony Kemp, he was as good as it gets.
He induced a pop-out to Max Stassi, then struck out Jordan Diaz for a quick two-outs, but after working a 1-2 count to Conner Capel, Ohtani tried to front-door a cutter and it was knocked to center field. A near no-hitter won’t turn heads, but his overall performance cannot be overlooked.
If not for Aaron Judge hitting every ball over the fence, the MVP would be Ohtani’s award to lose, but the Angels’ star player isn’t about that debate, via Sam Blum of The Athletic:
“I feel like you guys are more of an expert on the voting, the writers, so I’ll leave it up to you guys,” Ohtani said when asked about his thoughts on the MVP race. “But I’m definitely enjoying it. I enjoy watching Judge. I watched him hit 61. Just as a baseball fan, it’s great watching him do his thing.”
Judge is putting up one of the greatest offensive seasons in the history of baseball, and heading into play on Sept. 30, he’s posted an on-base plus slugging of 1.121, with 61 home runs and 130 runs batted in.
Angels center fielder, Mike Trout, knows a thing about MVP awards, having won three of them, and narrowly missing out on four others, but what he saw on Thursday with Ohtani’s pitching performance almost changed it all.
If he threw a no-hitter, the MVP conversation would be ridiculous,” Mike Trout said. “What (Aaron) Judge is doing and what he did, it’d be a great race.”
With the argument of Wins Above Replacement, how can one quantify the value of a player who pitches and hits, both at an MVP level? The race will come down to a matter of the value of history, and record-breaking, but what Ohtani is putting on display is something the baseball world truly hasn’t seen since Babe Ruth.
Carlos Correa calls Shohei Ohtani the best player in baseball history
The Angels took two of three games from the Minnesota Twins this past weekend, and Ohtani received some of the highest praise from one of Major League Baseball’s premier players.
On Sept. 23, the Angels notched a 4-2 win over the Twins, with Ohtani earning his 14th victory of the season. His game line isn’t the prettiest, but despite walking six batters over five innings, he punched out seven. When Ohtani struck out Gary Sanchez in the fourth inning, he earned his 200th strikeout of the season, making him just the 11th pitcher in Angels history to do so.
Ohtani is having a better year than his MVP season in 2021, but his season isn’t lost in the mix among the game’s best, namely Twin’s shortstop and World Series winner, Carlos Correa.
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