Shohei Ohtani Vs. Aaron Judge: The Great MVP Debate From Every Angle

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shohei ohtani

Let me tell you an old baseball story. No names given.

One year, Player A won the Triple Crown. He batted .343 with 32 homers and had 114 RBI. Player B batted .315, with 20 homers and 97 RBI. Player B’s team won the World Series.

Who won the MVP?

Don’t answer that yet.

Same two players, a few years earlier. Player A batted .406 with 37 homers and 120 RBI. Player B batted .357 with 30 homers and 125 RBI.

Who won the MVP that year?

By now, you may know the two players, the .406 gives it away. Player A is former Red Sox superstar Ted Williams. Player B is Yankees all-time great Joe DiMaggio.

The first year is 1947. The second is 1941.

DiMaggio won the Most Valuable Player Award both years. Remember, in 1941 he also hit safely in 56 games.

70 years later, we now have another fascinating Most Valuable Player debate featuring Yankee star Aaron Judge and Angels two-way superhero Shohei Ohtani. Judge leads Ohtani in most hitting categories, but Ohtani pitches….and pitches well.

Both seasons by both players are historic, but only one can be MVP. Who would you choose? Let’s break it down.

Personal Info

Aaron Judge: 30 years old. Outfielder for New York Yankees. 6-foot-7.

Shohei Ohtani: 27 years old. DH and pitcher for Los Angeles Angels. 6-foot-4. (Everyone always talks about Judge’s height, but Ohtani is no shrimp).

Games Played

Judge: 157

Ohtani: 156

Advantage: Neither.

Plate Appearances

Judge: 696

Ohtani: 662

Advantage: Neither.


Judge: 570

Ohtani: 582

Advantage: Judge. Ohtani’s number is a little smaller from coming out of games when he pitches.

Runs Scored

Judge: 133

Ohtani: 90

Advantage: Judge by a wide margin, of course, Ohtani-stans can say that Judge is surrounded by a much better line-up. Fair point.


Judge: 177

Ohtani: 159

Advantage: Judge, but maybe not by as much as you would think.

Doubles & Triples (Combined)

Judge: 28 – all doubles

Ohtani: 36

Advantage: Ohtani, if you want to use this as a metric for showing a complete baseball player, one who hits the ball to all fields and can run, then Ohtani scores a victory.

Home Runs

Judge: 62 (all-time AL record)

Ohtani: 34

Advantage: Duh. Judge has been the talk of the baseball world for the last month, passing Roger Maris Tuesday night with a homer against the Texas Rangers.


Judge: 131

Ohtani: 95

Advantage: Another big score for Judge. His 131 RBI will lead the AL. Again, Ohtani-stans can point out the Angels flawed line-up.

Stolen Bases

Judge: 16

Ohtani: 11

Advantage: Judge, surprisingly. Again though, this may be explained by the Angels lack of offense and perhaps them seeing him as so valuable that they don’t want to risk him getting hurt on the basepaths.


Judge: 111/Intentional 19

Ohtani: 72/Intentional 14

Advantage: You can use intentional walks as a great metric for explaining how dangerous opposing managers and pitchers feel a player is. But this is still a win for Judge.


Judge: 175

Ohtani: 160

Advantage: Hey, in baseball today, everyone strikes out. A lot. This is a slight nod for Ohtani, but not by much.

Batting Average

Judge: .311

Ohtani: .273

Advantage: Listen, I am not a big new stats guy. To me, batting average is still the most important stat for a hitter of them all. Did you get on base? How often? Judge wins this category too. He also leads the AL in slugging percentage at .686.


Judge: Zero

Ohtani: 15 wins, 2.35 ERA, 27 starts, 161 innings pitched, 213 strikeouts.

Advantage: Ohtani, and by a wide margin. In addition to everything he’s done at the plate, Ohtani has also been one of the five best pitchers in the American League. And therein lies the argument.

Aaron Judge has had a season for the record books, but MLB has never seen a two-way player perform like Ohtani. He is the first player in baseball history with 10 or more pitching wins the same year he hits over 30 homers.


Ohtani pitched against the Yankees and Judge once in 2022 on June 2. It was one of Ohtani’s worst losses of the year. He only pitched three innings. Judge went 2-2 off of Ohtani with a single and a homer.

Advantage: Judge.

Team Records

Yankees: 99-62, AL East Champs.

Angels: 73-88, manager fired, owner selling team, tremendous collapse after early season start. Over 30 games back of Astros. Other than that, all good.

How To Choose?

I have been fortunate to pick many award winners and rankings in my career. The truth is everyone uses a different set of criteria to choose. Some will look at Judge’s home runs and say, that’s it, he’s the winner. Others will look at Ohtani’s performance as a pitcher and say that trumps anything Judge does, because as a hitter the numbers are somewhat comparable.

So let’s be very clear. Each voter will decide on what he thinks are the most important factors. Yes, of course, Judge will get some votes because of a Northeast bias. He’s on the Yankees. He’s good with the press (not great, but good). Ohtani faces different challenges. English isn’t his first language. His team isn’t as good. To some voters, that will be an issue.

Other voters may say, screw the Yankees, and vote for Ohtani out of spite knowing they can explain it by saying Ohtani pitches and Judge doesn’t.

Who Should Win?

If I had a vote, I would vote for Judge, but not without really, really thinking about it. To me, playing for the Yankees isn’t a bonus, it can be a curse. He’s thrived in the spotlight and under a lot of pressure. And I am one of those who thinks the home run record is tainted and 62 homers is a big deal.

I don’t know how Ted Williams didn’t win MVP when he won the Triple Crown for heaven’s sake, and it’s possible 25 years from now people look back at 2022 and wonder the same for Ohtani. But right here and now, Judge is the MVP.