BRONX, NY – The Yankees took a short break from their free fall on Sunday, squeaking out a 2-1 victory over the Rays. Aaron Judge was the offense again, scoring both runs on a HR and a double. Judge scored all three Yankees runs in the series. Excuse me while I walk directly into the ocean. In my opinion, Judge’s season (or Ohtani’s) is the perfect example of why team performance should not be a consideration in MVP voting in baseball. Here me out.
Judge’s biggest competition for MVP this season is the great Shohei Ohtani. The man is a unicorn having another unprecedented season. But I’ve heard people write off his case because the Angels have been playing meaningless games since May. But I’m here to argue that baseball is such a team game that one player can’t have enough of an impact on his team’s performance. The players’ team performs shouldn’t even be considered. The Angels have two of the best players in baseball and a measly .433 winning percentage. If you lose a tug-of-war with
Chris Rock The Rock and Jason Mamoa on your side, the blame probably lies with the other guys. It doesn’t mean the big guys are less valuable.
For argument’s sake, let’s say the Yankees’ other hitters continue to hit like Ogilvie from The Bad New Bears and they fall all the way out of the playoffs. Maybe Judge slows down a bit because they pitch around him more but still tacks on some stats. I’m not sure why he’s not being intentionally walked every time now. That’s probably why the Yankees have put him in the lead off spot the last two games. If no one is ever on base for him, might as well him lead off. But I digress. Let’s say Judge finishes with 58 dingers, 125 RBi, .295 BA, .400 OBP, 1.074 OPS, 17 SBs, and a 8.2 league leading WAR. That’s a freaking monster year. Talk about betting on yourself and winning. Damn, son.
Would anymore make the case that those stats were less valuable because the rest of the Yankees forgot how to hit and their bullpen had more injuries than an over 50 flag football league? Now let’s suspend reality and say the Angels has a monster second half and snuck into the second wildcard spot. If that happened, it would be because lots of other Angels started playing well too. I mean Ohtani has done his part and then some, and they still have only 58 wins. So if Ohtani won the MVP over Judge in that fake scenario, it would be because the rest of the Angels played better than the rest of the Yankees. That’s not logical.
Baseball teams need strong performances from lots of guys to be good. Great individual performances should not be penalized or rewarded for the performance of the rest of the team.
The best player in baseball will have but five at bats in a game. Even if he is successful in all five, going 5 for 5 with a HR, 2 2Bs and 2 singles, his team could still easily lose if his pitchers or other hitters don’t perform. And even if a pitcher throws a perfect game, he’s doesn’t play again for the next four games. In baseball, it takes a village.
That’s not the case in other major sports. If your QB completes almost all of his passes, or a basketball team’s best player makes all of his shots, or if a hockey player has a hat trick, those teams are much more likely to win. In those sports, it makes more sense to consider team performance in MVP voting.
But not in baseball. Nothing exemplifies that more than Aaron Judge still cranking dongs on a team falling apart like a cardboard box in a hurricane. He’s the maestro violin player on The Titanic. It’s not his fault the crew didn’t see the iceberg. He did his damn job.
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