Ohtani Shohei (29‧ LA Angels), who won the unanimous American League MVP by perfectly completing the two-hit combination, which was considered impossible in modern baseball in 2021, failed to win for the second consecutive time in 2022 did. It wasn’t that Ohtani’s performance was bad, there was a player with better results and a lot of buzz.
According to 안전놀이터‘Baseball Reference’, Ohtani recorded a 4.9 win contribution versus replacement player (WAR) as a hitter in 2021 and a 4.1 WAR as a pitcher. Combined, it was 9.0. Last year his hitter’s WAR dropped slightly to 3.4, but he posted a combined 9.6 with a 6.2 as a pitcher. Rather, the overall WAR was more than in 2021. However, Aaron Judge (31, New York Yankees)’s home run was more formidable.
Judge surpassed Ohtani in MVP voting last year, setting the most home runs in a season in American League history (62) and the most home runs for the New York Yankees franchise. Judge’s WAR was a whopping 10.6, beating Ohtani’s WAR, which combined both pitches and strokes. In addition, the home run race that attracted the attention of the entire league at the end of the season was also held, so the impact was no less than Ohtani.
Judge, who prevented Ohtani from winning two consecutive MVP titles, agreed to a nine-year, $360 million contract with the Yankees after the season. This year too, in the MVP race predictions before the season, there were many expectations that Ohtani and Judge would face each other again. But Judge wasn’t the only player who stopped Ohtani. Another Yankees player named Gerrit Cole (33, New York Yankees) appeared on the mound.
Ahead of the 2020 season, he signed a 9-year contract with the Yankees for a total of 324 million dollars (approximately 434.4 billion won), breaking the 300 million dollar barrier for the first time as a pitcher. He’s a good thrower by nature, but his pace early this season is the most perfect of his career. He is the best pitcher in the league.
Ohtani is 4-0 with a 1.85 earned run average in his first 6 games of the season. He has only 46 strikeouts in 34 innings. Conversely, the number of hits allowed per 9 innings is just 2.9. At a pace worthy of aiming for the strikeout title, his WHIP per inning is only 0.82. However, the player who has performed better than Ohtani is Gerrit Cole.
Cole pitched 40⅔innings in his first six starts of the season and is 5-0 with a 1.11 ERA. Cole has not been free from the home run issue since he moved to the Yankees, but he has not yet allowed a single home run this year. Since he has such a powerful pitch and no home runs, it is natural that he will have a hard time scoring runs against Cole.
Before the season, several columnists were confident that Ohtani could challenge for MVP and Cy Young at the same time. In fact, Ohtani was second in the MVP voting last year and fourth in the Cy Young Award voting. If you go a little further, you can win the prize together. But following Judge, Cole is poised to stop this feat this year. It will be interesting to see if Ohtani can overcome the Yankees’ strong wall.