Aaron Judge has put together one of the best seasons at the plate of all time. Shohei Ohtani continues to defy expectations for what is possible as a two-way baseball player.
As the 2022 MLB season winds down, voters will have to decide which of the two players will be the most deserving of the American League Most Valuable Player award.
Judge’s pursuit of Roger Maris’ 61-home run mark put some distance between him and Ohtani in the oddsmakers eyes for the AL MVP, but that doesn’t mean the race should be declared over. Ohtani, the reigning AL MVP, has improved his pitching while continuing to perform as one of the best power hitters in the sport.
Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani: Power numbers
As impressive as Ohtani’s power numbers have been in 2022, there is no disputing which player commands this category. That would be the player who became only the sixth player ever to reach 60 home runs in a season.
Judge has also hit for well more extra base hits and hits the ball harder on average.
Average exit velocity
Max exit velocity
Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani: Speed
There is no clear edge in the speed category. Judge has been a more efficient base-stealer with more infield singles, but Ohtani is the faster runner.
This season saw a drastic increase for Judge in stolen bases. He totaled 24 stolen bases over his previous six seasons. Ohtani, on the other hand, has seen a decrease in swipes. He had 26 steals in 2021.
27.3 feet per second
28.3 feet per second
Home to first
Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani: On-base ability
Like with the power, there is little dispute over who has the better numbers in this category. Judge is competing for a batting title and has racked up the walks as pitchers have been afraid to throw him strikes.
But when it comes to the plate discipline numbers, Ohtani is right there with his ability to take the free base when it is given to him.
Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani: Defense
Both Judge and Ohtani have posted defensive stats this year, but Judge’s have come in the outfield — across both center and right field. Ohtani, however, has only logged defensive stats from his time on the mound. He has not appeared in the outfield this season.
Judge has rated in the 77th percentile for outs above average among outfielders as he has continued the standout defense he has displayed throughout his career.
Outs above average
-0.6 feet vs. average
Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani: Pitching
Is this fair to Judge? Maybe not, but pitching has to be accounted into any MVP conversation for Ohtani, just as outfield defense counts for Judge.
Ohtani is in the conversation for the AL Cy Young, though he is a long-shot to win the award at +10000, tied for fourth-best in the AL, according to Caesars Sportsbook.
Average exit velocity
Aaron Judge vs. Shohei Ohtani: Value
There are a lot of different ways to compare Judge and Ohtani, but arguably the best is to look at stats like Wins Above Replacement and Win Probability Added as those stats take into account all the previous factors.
Ohtani still provides some challenges when evaluating his WAR and WPA. These stats don’t account for the value added of saving an extra roster space that Ohtani is saving — though that roster space would almost always likely be a replacement-level player or below.
Here’s a look at some of those stats according to Baseball Reference and Fangraphs, with Ohtani’s batting and pitching numbers listed separately.
3.5 (batting), 6.0 (pitching)
2.5 (batting), 3.3 (pitching)
3.9 (batting), 5.4 (pitching)
2.43 (batting), 3.26 (pitching)