Blue Jays: Bowden- “Vlad Guerrero Jr. is the MVP, and it’s not even close.”
By Dave Litman
For several months during this baseball season, as we all marvelled at the two-way exploits of Shohei Ohtani, it seemed to have been a foregone conclusion that the Los Angeles Angels star pitcher and hitter would be named the American League MVP.
Now, that notion is being challenged, as Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is on a late-season tear, and the debate has been heating up again in all corners of the baseball world.
At least one MLB insider believes the race is Vladdy’s to win, hands down.
“Vladimir Guerrero Jr. is the MVP, and it’s not even close,” said former major league general manager Jim Bowden Sunday morning on MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “I don’t even think it’s a debate anymore like some people do. He’s the MVP.”
There’s no doubt that Vlad’s numbers are MVP-worthy. Going into Sunday’s play, he’s not only two-thirds of the way to the traditional “Triple Crown”—Batting Average: .318 (1st); Home Runs: 46 (1st); RBI: 104 (T-4th), but he also leads the league in a number of other categories, including runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging (and therefore, of course, OPS), and WAR.
The Triple Crown has only been won once since 1967 (Miguel Cabrera, 2012). and if he were to pull it off at age 22, Guerrero would be the youngest to win it in baseball history, surpassing the great Ted Williams, who turned 24 when he accomplished the feat in 1942.
Ohtani’s credentials are well-known by now. He’s the first two-way superstar since Babe Ruth; he has a list of accomplishments this year that no one ever dreamed possible in modern major league baseball:
- 44 HR
- 154 OPS+
- 23 SB
- 9-2 Win-Loss, 3.36 ERA
- 136 K / 115.1 IP
And he was even named one of TIME magazine’s 100 Most Influential People of the Year. Not too many baseball players make it to that list.
What Shohei Ohtani’s done this season has never been seen before, but can Vlad Jr. take the MVP? A former MLB GM thinks he can. “And it’s not even close.”
The MVP, let’s not forget, is a full season award. 162 games. MLB Network insider Jon Heyman somehow figures, though, that Ohtani locked up the MVP back in July!
However, Ohtani has slowed down in recent weeks, fatigue does seem to be setting in (in fairness, that’s not surprising considering the load he carries on both sides of the ball. No one’s ever done this since ‘The Babe’).
Then there’s the age-old debate about how much team success should figure into the voting. Does a player’s MVP stock fall if his team is poor, and conversely rise if he helps lead his team to the playoffs? This discussion will be front and centre in this year’s MVP deliberation.
Ohtani’s Angels have long been far out of playoff contention. Vladdy, on the other hand, is helping lead his team to a possible postseason berth. And for some, that still means something.
What is the true meaning of the word “valuable” here? Valuable to your team? Valuable to baseball at large?
Bowden wants to settle that argument this way: “Ohtani gets ‘Most Outstanding Player’ and all the historic things, but…. Guerrero has carried Toronto. He’s the MVP, I’m sorry.”