The Way I See It
This week for The Way I See It, I decided to focus on baseball– specifically Aaron Judge, Shohei Ohtani and Albert Pujols.
Although I wouldn’t harbor expectations of a Pulitzer Prize-level column this week. You see, my homeboy league kicked off its draft this morning. It’s a five-player keeper league, full IDP. This is the 35th year of this league, with eight of the original 10 owners still in the fold. My love for this league exceeds any other industry experts league I’ve participated in (and won). It’s a slow draft (four hours per pick, 19 rounds), so there’s plenty of time for trades and shit-talking.
So have some understanding in the event I say something stupid, like Serena Williams is the greatest athlete of all time.
Here Comes the Judge
The person with the biggest split personality in the MLB has got to be Yankees’ GM Brian Cashman. On the one hand, his guy Aaron Judge is making history; on the other hand, by choosing not to extend his contract this past off-season, Cashman will need to bank the Brinks truck to Judge’s porch.
With 54 HRs in 131 games, Judge is on pace (68 HRs in 162 games) to shatter some iconic records:
– Most HRs by a right-handed batter in a single season, AL (58, held by Jimmy Foxx and Hank Greenberg);
– Greatest number of HRs by a Yankees player in a single season (61, held by Roger Maris);
– Most HRs in a season by a player not strongly suspected to be on ‘roids (61, held by Roger Maris);
What’s not to love about Judge? Seems like a good guy, bet on himself to succeed, and is on his way to an historic season. MLB needs more players like Judge if it hopes to breathe some life into its flailing fortunes. Speaking of which…
If there is one player that surpasses Judge when it comes to carrying the future of MLB on his shoulders, it’s Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani. Coming off his 2021 MVP season, Ohtani is considered to be neck-and-neck with Judge for AL MVP this season, and with good reason. As a pitcher, Ohtani is 11-8 with an ERA of 2.58 and a WHIP of 1.04 (while playing for a pretty bad Angels team); as a batter, his 30 HRs, 82 RBI and 0.880 OPS are pretty damn good, too. When taken together, there’s no doubt in my mind that Ohtani deserves the MVP if the vote were held today.
Ohtani is also writing his own bit of history: after beating the Yankees on Aug. 31st, he became the only player in MLB history to record 10 wins and 30 home runs in the same season. This is an incredible achievement, something even the legendary Babe Ruth did not accomplish.
The one obstacle to Ohtani getting his second MVP award is his team’s lousy season; Judge, on the other hand, is the best player on a Yankees team that is considered a favorite to win it all. My vote would still go to Ohtani, but I could easily see Judge winning.
The great thing about this AL MVP debate is that no matter which of these two great players falls short, their inspired play leaves baseball a clear winner.
As the marvelous 22 year career of Albert Pujols winds down, he continues to remind us why we were indeed fortunate to have witnessed his performance. After recently belting his 16th HR, Pujols now sits at 695 career dingers, one short of Alex Rodriguez’s total. While reaching Babe Ruth at #3 is highly unlikely, I’m rooting for Pujols to get to 700. A nice, round number punctuates his Hall of Fame career, plus the bonus of pushing A-Rod down a notch. Nothing like seeing A-Rod knocked down a peg.
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