The MLB is unlike any other major North American sport, as two MVPs are named, one for the American League and one for the National League. Coming into the 2022 season, many names including Manny Machado (Padres), Mike Trout (Angels), Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (Blue Jays), Juan Soto (Padres), and Bryce Harper (Phillies) were up for contention. Now, with just a few days left in the regular season, the frontrunners have emerged and separated themselves from the pack. The favorites from the American League are Shohei Ohtani (Angels) and Aaron Judge (Yankees), and from the National League are Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals) and Freddie Freeman (Dodgers).
This article provides arguments as to why each player deserves to win the MVP (Written with stats from 9/22/22).
Shohei Ohtani, Angels
The reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani is the most well-rounded player in baseball. His offensive numbers have carried over from his MVP season. This year, Shohei has 144 total hits, 34 home runs, 89 RBIs, a slash line of .270/.358/.534, and an OPS+ of 149. He is one of the league leaders in offensive oWAR at 3.6, but that number did go down from the 2021 season (5.0 oWAR).
On the pitching side, Ohtani has started 25 games this year, with an overall record of 13-8. His 2.43 ERA ranks seventh-best in the league with an ERA+ of 165, and his strikeout rate is the best in baseball at 11.9 K/9. Ohtani’s pitching WAR is 5.3, which is a noticeable increase from last season (5.3 WAR).
His overall WAR is currently 8.9, which ranks second in the league, only behind Aaron Judge. There is no denying that Ohtani is an incredible two-way talent, but we have become numb to it. He has consistently been great on both sides of the ball, which has caused people to normalize his abilities. With that being said, the Angels have not been good this year, which has also undermined the incredible season Ohtani is having. If Shohei had more protection in the lineup, maybe his offensive numbers would have been better, providing him a stronger case for the MVP.
Aaron Judge, Yankees
Aaron Judge has had a record breaking season. His offensive numbers have been off the charts. This year, Judge has 169 total hits, 60 home runs, 128 RBIs, a slash line of .317/.421/.705, and an OPS+ of 215. To put into perspective how insane Judge’s 60 home runs are, Kyle Schwarber (Phillies) is second in the league in home runs with 40 this season. Judge leads the league in offensive oWAR at 9.8, which is two points higher than the next closest player, another MVP candidate, Paul Goldschmidt at 7.4.
Throughout the 2022 season, these are the statistics Aaron Judge has led the league in: home runs (60), RBIs (128), batting average (.317), runs scored (125), base-on-balls (94), total bases (376), on-base percentage (.421), slugging percentage (.705), on-base plus slugging (1.126), and wins above replacement (9.9). He has also been chasing history, on pace to break the American League single season home run record of 61, set by Roger Maris in 1961. Judge’s insane performance this year has also put him in contention to win the Triple Crown if he continues to lead the American League in batting average, home runs, and RBIs.
Defensively, Judge has been equally as dominant, not recording an error in the outfield. When the Yankees lost 11 games in the AL East standings, Aaron Judge kept them in great playoff position, hitting .332 with 25 home runs and 54 RBIs. He has anchored the Yankees the past few years, but took that role to a whole different level this season.
Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
Paul Goldschmidt is the frontrunner to win the National League MVP this season. He is nearly winning the Triple Crown, leading the league in on-base percentage (.408) and slugging percentage (.595).
Here are his stats and where they rank in the National League:
.320 batting average (2nd in the league)
.408 on-base percentage (leads the national league)
.595 slugging percentage (leads the national league)
1.003 on-base plus slugging (leads the national league)
186 OPS+ (leads the national league)
314 total bases (leads the national league)
7.7 WAR (3rd in the league)
35 home runs (7th in the league)
112 RBIs (4th in the league)
With all of the major categories he leads, and being on a team that has 7.5 game lead, he is a definite frontrunner to win MVP.
Freddie Freeman, Dodgers
Freddie Freeman has not stopped winning since the Atlanta Braves World Series championship, to now playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers, who have the best record in baseball at 103-46. This year, Freeman is leading the majors in hits (190) and doubles (45). He is hitting .330/.405/.519, with his .330 batting average leading the league. He has 20 home runs, 98 RBIs, an OPS+ of 153, and a 5.5 WAR.
If the best player on the best team deserves to win the MVP, then Freddie Freeman should be awarded for his play with the Dodgers this year. He has quietly continued his reign as one of MLB’s best players, leading the Dodgers to the best record in the league while providing a stabilizing force in the middle of an always shifting lineup.
With all of that being said, these are my MVP predictions:
AL MVP: Aaron Judge
Shohei Ohtani’s performance this year should not be overlooked, but this has been Aaron Judge’s season. The narrative of the 2022 MLB season will be Aaron Judge’s historic performance, which is what I believe the MVP trophy represents.
NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt
Freddie Freeman has been the most consistent player in baseball the past few years, but Paul Goldschmidt is having an incredibly special year. He leads his competitors in all major categories, which I listed above, and he could end up winning the Triple Crown in the NL. Goldschmidt’s dominance in the NL is clear, making him my predicted MVP winner.