Yankees star Aaron Judge is the second consecutive AL East superstar to hurtle towards Shohei Ohtani in a year-end MVP discussion, and the man who went through a similar battle last year (Vladimir Guerrero Jr.) seems firmly in his corner.
Division rivals apparently stick together these days, especially when there’s a common “enemy” involved.
In an interview with Z Deportes, Guerrero didn’t hold back against what he perceived as bias in Ohtani’s favor, citing Aaron Judge’s huge numerical advantage. The Jays slugger still called Ohtani an “excellent” player, but … there are plenty of “excellent” players in today’s game. This season, in particular, there’s only one Judge.
The interview wasn’t all platitudes in Judge’s direction, though. In the translation, it seems clear Guerrero made an oblique reference to MVP races of the past, hoping to prevent “another steal” this season.
Huh. Is this late-season dose of espionage the “movie” the Jays kept promising us would arrive in 2022? If so, pretty good twist ending.
Yankees star Aaron Judge has Vladimir Guerrero Jr.’s blessing in Shohei Ohtani MVP race
Now, this statement begs the question: what was Guerrero Jr. referring to when he said “another” steal? 2017’s Judge vs. Jose Altuve race, which was objectively stolen? Or last year’s Vlad vs. Ohtani battle, which was … uh …
Not to re-litigate this 1,000 times (even though Guerrero Jr. started it!), but if someone was inclined to vote for Ohtani because of his spectacular season on the mound, as well as representative season at the plate, it would make sense. Ohtani dominating on both sides of the ball feels like a baseball villain cooked up in a lab specifically to prevent Judge from winning an MVP. He would go unanimous against literally anyone else.
That said … he’s dominating in a void, and Judge is dominating in a gauntlet. If you still believe these races should have nuance, you’ll vote for Judge.
These numbers really should speak for themselves, without Vladdy’s help.
Last season, Guerrero Jr.’s coming-out party was a sight to behold, and the near-playoff-bound Jays would’ve carried him to the award, if Ohtani hadn’t gotten in the way.
This time around, Judge has improved on Vladdy’s “Extremely Good But Normal” season with a potential record-setting campaign. We’ll find out where the judges settled in just a few weeks’ time.