Only two candidates are still competing for the AL MVP award, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) performed better than Shohei Ohtani.
The 22-year-old Blue Jays slugger has better OPS+, 174 vs. 163. His batting rate is 45 points higher, his on-base rate is 49 points higher, and his WAR as a position player is 0.7 higher than Ohtani’s Baseball-Reference formula (4.8 to 4.1) or FanGraphs calculation (5.3 to 4.6) .
His strikeout rate is much lower (17.0% to 30.8%), and his walk rate is also better (13.0% to 12.0%).
|Guerrero||.314/.409/.611||174 Operation and Maintenance+||35 Human Resources||88 RBI||3 SB||90 R||4.8 bWAR / 5.3 fWAR|
|Otani||.269/.360/.647||163 Operation and Maintenance+||39 Human Resources||86 RBI||17 SB||78 R||4.1 bWAR / 4.6 fWAR|
Guerrero leads the Grand Slam in OPS+, base rate (.409), runs (90), total bases (261) and fWAR, and he is only one RBI away from leading big men in this category (Raphael Devers (Rafael Devers) 89, Vlad Jr. has 88). For a kid who didn’t turn 22 until March, this is a truly impressive season.
“The biggest driving force is winning. When you fight for something greater than yourself, he has the best player,” Blue Jays shortstop Bobby Chet told Sports News on All-Star Media Day. “It’s so fun to be with him, watching him lead and play hard every day, come to the court every day and become the best player on the court. It’s great to be by his side.”
In any normal year, the hair that falls on the side of Guerrero’s fence will be the end of the story. In a game against any average player, Guerrero will-in September look like he did the first five months of the season-when 30 BBWAA voters vote before the playoffs, they will eventually win the first MVP. Most of the votes for the first name start.
He may not get all 30 points, but he will get more than half and win the prize.
However, as you know, this is not any normal year, and Otani is not any normal player.
“He is different. He is absolutely different,” White Sox star Tim Anderson told SN with a smile on All-Star Media Day. “He has a lot of power and a power arm. You can’t really explain this, but it’s fun to see him, and it’s also fun to see him do what he has been doing.”
The fact is that at this point in mid-August, Guerrero’s chances of winning the MVP were almost zero. It is doubtful that he will even get a first-place vote.
Why? Because what Otani has done this season still feels impossible. This is completely unprecedented in the history of baseball. Even if he did not play another game in the 2021 season, he still deservedly won the 2021 AL MVP award.
We mentioned WAR comparison before. Let us revisit it. Guerrero has a total of 4.8 bWAR. Ohtani has 4.1 bWAR as a position player (almost exclusively as a DH), but he also has 3.3 bWAR as a pitcher. This is a 7.5 bWAR (rounded up).
As a baseball player, Guerrero is great in one way. For most years, this is enough. But Ohtani will participate in all the minor leagues of Major League Baseball and will dominate as a batsman and pitcher. Look at that pitch line:
Otani: 17 G, 92 IP, 2.93 ERA, 3.23 FIP, 61 H, 112 K, 2.87 K/BB, 3.3 bWAR/2.4 fWAR
So yes, this is where the conversation about AL MVP becomes a bit ridiculous.
Think about it: Guerrero is one of the most dazzling young stars in the sport and the best batsman in the league, but he won’t win the AL MVP award because he can’t throw.
In the history of Major League Baseball, no player has lost an MVP award because of “only” hitting or “only” pitching. This never happened, but it would cost Vlad Jr. a trophy.
His father won the AL MVP in 2004. He hit 37 home runs, an average of 0.337, an on-base percentage of 0.398, 157 OPS+ and 5.6 bWAR. He received 21 of the 30 first-place votes, ahead of second-place Gary Sheffield, who has 36 home runs, 4.2 bWAR and 141 OPS+. But what if voters combine Sheffield with Tim Hudson-he has a 3.53 ERA, 4.3 bWAR and 2.34 K/BB in 27 starts-and make them a player?
Yes, TimGar Sheffudson will win the 2004 AL MVP award by an overwhelming advantage.
Of course, this is a stupid assumption, but this is what the young Guerrero will really compete with in 2021.
He was knocked down by a player who shouldn’t exist, knocked down by a genius that MLB had never seen before. A season we have never seen pushed him off the stage. There is nothing shameful.