two portents

It’s not often that a major league season ends with such extraordinary results from two players as Aaron Judge and Shohei Ohtani have had this year. This has sparked a debate over which of the two is deserving of the American League Most Valuable Player title.

Whichever of them is elected deserves it, although only one will receive it unless, as in 1979 in the National League, there is a tie vote.

Ohtani has been impressive in two different roles: as a pitcher he finished fourth in PCL (2.33), fifth in WHIP (1,012) and leader in SO/9IL (11.87) in 166 innings and as a designated hitter he reached an .875 OPS with 34 homers. and 95 RBIs.

Due to the very well-to-do custom of measuring an everyday player by his hitting alone, even speed is not normally assumed to be as useful on offense as it is on defense, it has been argued that Ohtani did an excellent job in two roles, ignoring that Judge also fully complied in two, hitting and defending. Baseball is a sport with three angles, offense, pitching and defense.

The Yankees outfielder’s 62-homer feat overshadows the brilliant defensive work with which he contributed to the team’s cause. When a mistake occurred in center field, he assumed that responsibility without fault, it would suffice to point out that he did not make mistakes in more than a thousand episodes, in addition to the fact that it is impossible to measure with certainty the occasions in which rival runners chose not to challenge his accurate and powerful arm in search of of an extra base.

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Running on the bases, his contribution had a level of excellence, to the extreme of being one of the fifteen who reached an extra base with a hit in at least 50% of the occasions that there was this opportunity, at the same time that in 19 attempts of robbery was only caught three times.

So tipping the scales in favor of one of these two powerhouses is tough, but if I have to, I’d do it in favor of Aaron Judge.

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