The regular season has been over for just about a week now, we have had time to digest and look back at the season while enjoying all aspects of postseason baseball. But it’s time to take a look at the performances from the regular season that we deem to be MVP-worthy.
On November 11 we will find out who will be awarded the 2021 American League MVP, but until then, let us take a look at the regular season of the two best players in the American League and see who we think should win the prestigious award.
Before we look at this season and the candidates, let’s take a look at the past decade worth of winners for the American League MVP award.
Previous AL MVP Winners
|2020||Jose Abreu||Chicago White Sox|
|2019||Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim|
|2018||Mookie Betts||Boston Red Sox|
|2017||Jose Altuve||Houston Astros|
|2016||Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim|
|2015||Josh Donaldson||Toronto Blue Jays|
|2014||Mike Trout||Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim|
|2013||Miguel Cabrera||Detroit Tigers|
|2012||Miguel Cabrera||Detroit Tigers|
|2011||Justin Verlander||Detroit Tigers|
Now, without further ado, let’s take a look at the two players who have the best odds of winning the 2021 American League MVP Award
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (-5000)
Shohei Ohtani is a clear-cut, run-away favorite to win the American League MVP award this season. Ohtani not only excelled at the plate this season, but did something that no one has done since Babe Ruth, and excelled on the mound as well. It’s hard to compete with a player who can do two things better than almost anyone in the league, so let’s take a look at what he did during the 2021 regular season to stand out and have such favorable odds to win the award.
Shohei Ohtani – The Pitcher
First, let’s take a look at Shohei Ohtani, the pitcher. Ohtani started 23 games for the Angels this season. In those 23 games, Ohtani posted a 9-2 record with a 3.18 ERA. Ohtani pitched in 130.1 innings, allowing only 98 hits all season while striking out 156 batters and walking only 44. Ohtani had an ERA+ of 141, where the league average is 100. On average, Ohtani gave up 6.8 hits, 1.0 home runs, 3.0 walks, and struck out 10.8 batters per nine innings.
Shohei Ohtani – The Hitter
Shohei Ohtani had 639 plate appearances stretched over 155 games. Ohtani, while essentially playing two positions, played in all but seven games all season. in those 155 games, Ohtani posted a slash line of .257/.372/.592 with an OPS+ of 158, again where 100 is league average. On top of those stellar numbers, Ohtani also stole 26 bases and slugged 46 home runs (which is one less than he had the previous three seasons combined).
Shohei Ohtani did everything this season and did it really well. It’s almost not fair to anyone else, and if he continues to be a two-way player and even marginally succeeds at both, there is no reason why Ohtani shouldn’t be a repeat MVP award winner throughout his career.
Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Toronto Blue Jays (+1200)
Vladimir Guerrero Jr. had an outstanding season, there isn’t a better way to explain that. As the Blue Jays jumped around all season before finally being allowed to come back to play in Toronto, Guerrero and all of his teammates overcame a lot of obstacles playing in so many different home stadiums. Let’s take a look at what Guerrero did this season to put himself into MVP contention.
The first thing that stands out in Guerrero’s stat line this season is the fact that he played in 161 out of 162 games this season. That’s a lot of credit to the young man on his off-season workout programs and conditioning to be able to play in that many games. Guerrero produced a slash line of .311/.401/.601 while slugging 48 home runs. Guerrero also only struck out 110 times all season, which is extremely low in the era of big fly or strikeout.
Guerrero The League Leader
Guerrero had an amazing season, we have already seen that in his numbers. But let’s take time to appreciate how good he actually was this season. Guerrero led the entire American League in the following categories;
- Runs Scored (123)
- Home Runs (48)
- OBP (.401)
- SLG (.601)
- OPS (1.002)
- OPS+ (169)
- Total Bases (363)
If Shohei Ohtani wasn’t a two-way player and an extremely successful two-way player, then Vlad Guerrero Jr. would be the one that was running away with the MVP award. If for some reason, the baseball writers decided to give the MVP award to Guerrero I don’t think they’d be wrong. He’s had a great season and either he or Ohtani would be completed deserving of being crowned the American League MVP for the 2021 season.