BBWAA Awards week will continue Thursday night with the announcement of the winners of the Most Valuable Player Awards for the National and American Leagues. The winners will be announced at 6 p.m. live on MLB Network.
While no one on the Battery Power staff has a vote in the actual awards, below are our thoughts and who we would vote for if we were given the opportunity. (Note: Roundtable participants were not required to vote for one of the BBWAA finalists)
National League: (Finalists: Nolan Arenado, Paul Goldschmidt, Manny Machado)
Kris: It looked like it was going to be Paul Goldschmidt until he faded late. Instead I will go with Manny Machado who helped the Padres get back to the postseason in a much tougher division while doing it with the bat and the glove.
Eric: I’ll give it to Goldy although he faded late. That Cardinals team basically goes nowhere without him carrying the offense for stretches this season.
Sam: Goldy. It was his award almost all year long. Arenado did end up passing him in fWAR due to his insane defense. I typically side with fWAR when it’s close but it is really hard to not vote for a guy with a wRC+ 25 points higher than his next competitor
DJourn: Manny Machado. It still irks me that the Hank Aaron Award isn’t a higher profile award because if the MVP Award is for the player most valuable to his team, then Machado gets my pick over teammates Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado.
Cassidy: Goldy will probably win because he was the best all year. However, I lean Machado all the turmoil with Tatis and roster turnover additions and such! He was the one constant and productive even came back super quick from nasty ankle injury and didn’t miss a beat.
Ivan: Probably Goldschmidt? There are four guys that should be in consideration – the three finalists and Freddie Freeman. The three finalists way, way, way overhit their xwOBA; Goldschmidt and then Machado have way more WPA than Arenado and Freeman. It’s a really tough one but I think Goldschmidt’s ultimate endline result of a 177 wRC+ and the best WPA among the contenders should give him the nod.
Daniel: I am going to pick a painful answer for Braves fans and say Freddie Freeman, with Arenado in second. Machado, Arenado, Freeman, and Goldscmidt are all clustered together in terms of fWAR, but as Ivan mentioned above, Freddie is the only one that didn’t wildly outproduce his xwOBA (he actually underproduced relative to his xwOBA), which makes the value accrued much more earned in my view. Arenado is a touch above the other two finalists on the basis of his defense, while we are in the realm of BABIP shenanigans.
Shawn: Paul Goldschmidt should be the winner. He was the best hitter in the National League for much of the season despite struggling late in the year. Though others may have provided more value in terms of offense and defense, Goldy’s offense and impact on winning sets him apart from the others.
Demetrius: Definitely have to give it to Paul Goldschmidt here. He’s edged past Nolan Arenado and while there’s already an award out there for the best overall hitter each season, I feel like that’s a bit of a precursor to who could potentially end up being the MVP. So Goldy better make some room beside the Henry Aaron trophy.
American League: (Finalists: Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani, Yordan Alvarez)
Kris: Shohei Ohtani belongs in his own category, but my vote would go to Aaron Judge this season. Anyone that puts up an 11 win season has to be the MVP.
Eric: I know that what Ohtani does on a night to night basis is absurd, but Aaron Judge was pretty clearly the most valuable player in the AL. He was the Yankees offense for stretches, all the numbers check out, and he has some narrative stuff behind his case which is fun.
Sam: Last year, it was Ohtani hands down. Almost any other year and Ohtani would have won it again. But, what Judge did with the bat, and his positive value defense and base running led to one of the highest fWAR seasons since fangraphs started tracking fWAR. This year, it’s all rise.
DJourn: Aaron Judge was so much better than everyone else offensively that it’s an open-and-shut case, to me. As amazing as Ohtani is, Judge was better in ‘22.
Cassidy: Judge the numbers speak for themselves and if Judge wasn’t on the Yankees they don’t make the playoffs. Plus breaking records that no one that would be touched is an extra bonus.
Ivan: There are definitely years where Ohtani being a great hitter (without much fielding) and a phenomenal pitcher warrants the nod, but Judge just overpowered anyone else’s case this year. He’s only the second non-Barry Bonds hitter to put up a wRC+ over 200 in the last two decades-plus (Juan Soto), and his 207 beat Soto’s 202, which was achieved over just 196 PAs in a shortened season. Add in the fact that he didn’t do this while bleeding defensive value by standing like a statue, and actually added some baserunning value, and there you go.
Daniel: Just because everyone else said Judge (because that’s probably the correct answer), I am going to steel-man Ohtani. Shohei was legitimately a Cy Young level pitcher and a truly elite hitter at the same time. Ohtani accumulated 9.4 fWAR, compared to Judge’s 11.4, but hitting fWAR is based on wRC+. Ohtani underproduced his xwOBA by 0.015, while Judge underproduced his by 0.005, so that makes up some ground. It must also be mentioned that Shohei is performing the roles of two normal players, but he is only one person and therefore one roster spot. This sort of messes with WAR-based valuation, but this does allow theoretical additional value to be added to the roster in the form of an additional player, although the actual value accrued from this “extra” roster spot is up for a significant amount of debate. For argument’s sake, I will say that the xwOBA comparative performance plus the extra roster spot enabled by Ohtani’s unique abilities makes him more valuable than Judge to have on a roster for their 2022 performances.
Shawn: Aaron Judge should be the choice without much debate. Shohei Ohtani has a valid case with his numbers on the mound and at the plate, but Judge’s year goes beyond him just being the best hitter in baseball this year. He literally just produced one of the best offensive seasons in baseball history, especially in recent years. That production levels should be more than enough to earn him the award.
Demetrius: Shohei Ohtani is a unicorn and he just had a season that would win MVP in any normal year. This was not a normal year. As Ivan mentioned, Aaron Judge had a season that was comparable to a Barry Bonds MVP season. If you have a season that is comparable to a Barry Bonds MVP season, you should be MVP. Plain and simple.