Right now, Toronto Blue Jays’ star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is making things interesting and will get some MVP votes, too, even first-place votes, because he has a shot at winning the first offensive Triple Crown in nine years.
However, Ohtani virtually locked up the MVP award with a strong start, even if he is scuffling at the plate a bit right now.
What he did since the start of the season until recently is unprecedented in the history of the game: no player, not even Babe Ruth, had such a dominant season at the plate and on the mound.
Ohtani is the Angels’ ace and their top slugger in Mike Trout’s absence: you could very well argue that he has been their best pitcher and offensive player in 2021.
A Fantastic Start
Over his last 30 games, Ohtani is slumping, and that’s an undeniable fact.
He is hitting .192/.336/.337 with only five homers and 39 strikeouts over that span.
On the other hand, Guerrero Jr. is slashing a fine .347/.421/.636 with 10 round-trippers in his last 30, pushing himself closer to Ohtani in the MVP consideration.
However, and while Guerrero Jr. is perhaps the best hitter in MLB right now and is spectacular in his own right, Ohtani should be the MVP because of two things: one, he is doing a unique thing and that should not be taken for granted; and two, he was a dynamo earlier in the season.
The last triple crown winning hitter was Miguel Cabrera when he did it in 2012
The last time a player was an elite hitter and a very good pitcher was…never
What Shohei Ohtani is doing is unprecedented, the MVP race shouldn’t even be a debate between him and Vlad Jr rn 🤷🏻♂️ pic.twitter.com/0l3aMgSFHP
— Jake ⛏ (@InheritedRunnrs) September 15, 2021
As a hitter, Ohtani is having a slash line of .255/.357/.588 with a .945 OPS and 44 homers.
That is impressive, although not quite as Guerrero’s .320/.410/.614, 46 homers, and 1.024 OPS.
However, Ohtani was a menace in the first few months, and those numbers built an MVP case.
They cannot be erased even though is currently cold.
Over the first half, Ohtani hit .279/.364/.698 with 33 homers and a 1.062 OPS.
He was due for a cold streak eventually, and it is possible that the wear and tear of pitching and hitting is catching up to him.
A Dual Threat Like No Other
Remember that the other thing Ohtani has going on for him in the MVP race is the fact that he has performed like an ace over 22 starts and 123.1 innings.
He is 9-2 with a 3.28 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP, notching 146 strikeouts thanks to a filthy splitter and a triple-digits fastball.
To put it this way: he is having a slightly better offensive season than Vladdy’s teammate Marcus Semien (the leader in Wins Above Replacement in the last three seasons combined) while being better than all Jays’ pitchers except for Robbie Ray.
That is perhaps the best way to put what Ohtani is doing in 2021 in perspective.
Guerrero Jr. is a generational hitting talent who will probably contend, and win, for several MVP awards over his career.
This year, though, Ohtani should be the MVP with some difference, because what he did earlier in the season was remarkable.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) September 15, 2021
Additionally, his two-way prowess should not go down without recognition in the form of hardware.