Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi believes that New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is more deserving of the American League MVP award over Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani for one simple reason:
Zaidi joined KNBR 680's "Tolbert & Copes" on Thursday, where he explained why winning and playing an important role on a competitive team is important in deciding who wins the award.
"When I look at the AL MVP race, maybe if Aaron Judge wasn't having the season that he was having and Ohtani was far and away the most impressive performing player in the league then maybe you give that consideration," Zaidi said.
"But for me, I really think it's almost disqualifying if you're not playing for a contender. And you don't necessarily have to be on a team that winds up in the playoffs, but is playing meaningful games down the stretch. You turn on a game right now between two games that are out of contention and then turn on a game where the two teams are battling for a playoff spot, it's kind of like apples and oranges."
Judge's historic 2022 season has taken center stage and rightfully so. In 147 games played this season, the Yankees slugger is hitting .314/.420/.696 with 60 home runs and 128 RBI. On the other hand, Ohtani entered Saturday hitting .271/.358/.534 with 34 home runs and 90 RBI while simultaneously posting an eye-popping 14-8 record with a 2.47 ERA and 203 strikeouts in 153 innings on the mound.
What Ohtani has done since entering the league in 2018 is and always will be otherworldly, there's no debating that. Unfortunately for Ohtani -- and baseball fans all around the world -- he's putting up these numbers on a lowly, mediocre Angels team that has been out of contention for months and continues to waste prime years of perennial superstars such as Ohtani and Mike Trout.
"The fact of the matter is, for a player whose team is out of contention, he's playing in a completely different environment," Zaidi explained. "It's not his fault, but there's other hardware you can win with that. For me, the MVP is not just about performance but performance that really made an impact on the standings and the story of the league for that year. And that for me, is Aaron Judge."
The debate surrounding the merits of the MVP award is rehashed frequently and this season will be no different.
For Zaidi and many others around the league, the choice is clear. You simply cannot write the story of the 2022 season without Judge.