For most of the 2022 season, New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge was the runaway favorite to win the American League MVP. His chase for home run history led to an AL record 62 big fly’s, and his 1.111 OPS led baseball by a significant margin.
However, Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani gave him a real run for his money towards the end of the season. Judge’s home run chase stalled at several points in the 50s and early 60s, while Ohtani improved on his early season struggles at the plate to finish with an .865 OPS. All the while, he was dominating on the mound.
Not only was Ohtani an MVP finalist, he was just five points away from being a Cy Young finalist as well, ultimately finishing fourth in voting behind Alek Manoah. The combination of his elite season on the mound and another 30-plus home run season gave voters a legitimate path towards awarding Ohtani the MVP.
But when the time came to announce the award on Thursday night, the long-standing favorite prevailed, with Judge taking home his first Most Valuable Player.
Judge received 28 of the 30 possible first-place votes, with Ohtani receiving the other two. However, Ohtani did receive 28 second-place votes, putting him firmly above the third place finisher, Yordan Alvarez. The top three in this race were almost entirely unanimous.
The top 10 was rounded out by — in order from fourth to 10th — Jose Ramirez, Jose Altuve, Andres Gimenez, Julio Rodriguez, Mike Trout, Xander Bogaerts, and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander. This is Trout’s 10th top-10 finish in just 11 seasons.
No one can deny how remarkable a season Ohtani had in 2022. It was arguably better than the 2021 campaign that won him the MVP award. However, Judge made history in 2022 and was — without a doubt — the best offensive player on the planet.
The Houston Astros and Cleveland Guardians also flexed their dominance on the AL by finishing with five of the top 10 vote-getters. The Angels, Yankees, Seattle Mariners, and Boston Red Sox made up the other five. In total, 23 players got at least one top-10 vote.
Ohtani announces WBC plans
Ohtani took to Instagram earlier this week to thank Angels fans for their support in 2022. But more importantly, he announced his intention to join Japan for the World Baseball Classic. This had been discussed towards the end of the 2022 season, but Ohtani made it official this week, although it’s unclear exactly what role he’ll play.