The 30 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America with votes to decide the AL MVP award have a wonderful decision to make.
They have the mighty Aaron Judge carrying the New York Yankees through much of that team's slump-ridden summer. He entered this weekend with 60 home runs and the possibility of capturing the AL's Triple Crown.
That would be the major leagues' first since Detroit's Miguel Cabrera in 2012 — which is the only one in the 55 years since Carl Yastrzemski claimed the batting, home run and RBI titles for Boston in 1967.
The competition is Shohei Ohtani, the incredible combination of hitting and pitching power for the Los Angeles Angels.
Ohtani was voted MVP in 2021, when there was no other candidate in the same universe, and his two-way performance has been better this season.
What's astounding from here is that both Judge, as an outfielder, and Ohtani, as a combination starting pitcher (Start No. 26 on Friday vs. the Twins) and designated hitter, were playing in their 146th games on Friday night.
How Ohtani can handle it physically, pitching and DHing when he starts, and DHing in all the rest of them, should blow the minds of baseball observers.
Plus this: He is the fastest batter getting from home plate to first base in the American League.
And, yet, if I were to have a vote, it would go to Judge. The word "valuable" is in the title for a reason for these baseball writers' awards for both leagues that go back to 1931.
Your team doesn't have to win a pennant to claim the award, but when two candidates are as strong as these in the AL in 2022, the fact the Yankees are 30 games over .500 and the Angels are 20 games under should be allowed to swing the debate.
And, "Yeah, but they're the Yankees" doesn't work as a counter argument, because they have dealt with numerous injuries and long periods when Judge was surrounded in the lineup by many outs.
I can see voters that will side with Ohtani based on the unique and demanding nature of his talent, but again, it's not "Player of the Year" … it's Most Valuable.
If Judge were to lose in an upset, it would not be for the reason that Ted Williams was robbed out of three MVPs in the 1940s — and twice as a Triple Crown winner.
Williams was a candid fellow in expressing his disrespect for sports writers and those gentlemen — basically, an all-male occupation back then — were vindictive.
He batted .406 in 1941, and as it has turned out, the last big-league hitter to hit .400. The Yankees' Joe DiMaggio had his record 56-game hitting streak that season.. The 24 voters gave DiMaggio 291 points to 254 for Williams, even with Ted's superior numbers.
Williams won the Triple Crown in 1942, yet he lost the MVP to Yankees second baseman Joe Gordon, 270 points to 249. Williams' monstrous numbers in all categories overshadowed Gordon, but the Yankees won the pennant and sportswriters apparently didn't mind robbing Teddy Ballgame in back-to-back years.
The worst was in 1947, when Williams again won the Triple Crown, yet he lost out to DiMaggio by a vote total of 202-201. Williams was left off one ballot, back at the time when the ballots were not revealed publicly.
Williams was involved in writing a book in which he identified a Boston sportswriter with whom he had feuded as having left him off the ballot. Later research indicated that writer didn't have one of the three Boston votes and the ballot on which Williams was absent came from the "West" (Chicago or St. Louis).
Teddy Ballgame did win MVP awards in 1946 and 1949. But it could have been so many more in the '40s. And with three other seasons (1943-45) missed serving as a Marine fighter pilot in World War II, that would have been a decade hard to beat in baseball history.