You could make a strong argument that the two young stars are the front-runners for the American League MVP award to this point in the season, and the matchup would be must-see TV.
As of this writing Vlad Jr. is tied with Ronald Acuna Jr. of the Atlanta Braves for first in all of baseball with 22 home runs thus far. Not far behind them is Ohtani with 21 after hitting two more on Friday night, and it’s all the more impressive when you consider that he also takes a regular turn in the starting rotation for the Angels as well. This season his offensive production has been so good that the Angels have had him playing on pretty much an every day basis.
Right now, the comparison (at least on offence) looks like this:
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.336/.438/.664, 22 HR, 56 RBI, 3.7 bWAR, 244 AB
.268/.351/.610, 19 HR, 47 RBI, 4.3 bWAR, 228 AB
As I’ve already mentioned, the pair are pretty clearly at the front of the pack for the AL MVP award, and they’re also two of the most exciting players in the game. That’s obviously the type of description you’d like the players participating in All-Star weekend to have, and both are locks to make their respective rosters for the game as the main event.
However, if the MLB office wants to bring a ton of eyes to the sport (for once), they’d likely be doing everything in their power to convince Guerrero Jr. to join Ohtani in the slugfest. He’s legitimately one of the leading power hitters in the game right now, but he’s also a record-holder from what he did back in 2019 when he was just 20 years old. That year he battled Pete Alonso in the finals and ultimately came up just short, but he set a new event record with 91. The rules had been tweaked ahead of that contest, but it still ended up being 30 more home runs than had ever been hit by a single player throughout the whole competition.
The reluctance from Vlad Jr. would likely be for two reasons. One, it’s a long season and the opportunity to rest as much as possible over the All-Star break could be important. While it’s just one event, hitting 91 home runs takes a whole lotta swings. He’s also going to be very busy as it is, and there will be plenty of media attention in his directly. There’s also the concern about what an event like a home run derby might do to a player’s timing. Some folks think it’s a silly thing to worry about for players who take batting practice all the time, but others swear it’s a competition to avoid for a hot hitter.
For what it’s worth, I’ll understand support Guerrero Jr. if he decides to sit this one out. However, now that Ohtani is reportedly going to participate I have a hard time seeing him miss the chance to go up against the two-way star. One thing is for sure, I won’t miss it if he chooses to swing away.