By CJ Carlson
MLB MVP Awards
It didn’t take long to count the votes for the MVP award in both the National League and the American League. For the very first time since the year 1931, both conferences saw unanimous votes for the MVP award. Over in the AL, Shohei Ohtani won the award for the second time in the last three seasons, and Ronald Acuna won his first ever in the NL.
Acuna had a historic season in his last campaign. He hit 41 homeruns and stole 73 bases, the first player in league history to ever do both in a single season. When you compare his numbers to everybody else who hit at least 35 home runs this past season, nobody even past 21 steals. The reason I bring that up is because some might claim that he benefitted from a league rule change.
That rules change led to pickoff limits and bigger bags. And while it must’ve helped him boost those numbers, nobody else was able to benefit from it like he had. He’s quite literally playing in a world of his own lately, and the rest of his numbers continue to back that sentiment up. For example, he led the league in hits, runs, on-base percentage, and total bases.
It was the first time that a player had led in all of these categories since 1967. He’s currently the eighth MVP in Atlanta Braves history now, and the first player on the franchise to win it since 2020when Freddie Freeman did so. However, that season was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Acuna isn’t done though, as he will be playing more baseball in Venezuela. When asked about it, he said, “The reason I’m doing it, is because last year I had the opportunity to play, and a lot of people got to watch me and playing over there helped me a lot. There’s no better place to do it than the same place I started last year.”
As for Ohtani, he became the 29th player in league history to win multiple MVP awards. He would have had three consecutive MVP awards had it not been for a tremendous year out of Aaron Judge over on the New York Yankees. Ohtani not only pitches, but he bats as well, and does both at an extremely high level. He logged a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts over the course of 132 total innings. At the plate, he took home the AL home run crown with 44 hit, led the AL in on-base percentage, and in total bases, similar to Acuna.
Again though, Ohtani is a generational type of player not just because of his individual pitching or batting numbers, but more so because he can do both of these at a high level. If you were to see a player boast just the pitching or batting numbers, he’d be incredible at what he does. Yet the fact Shohei can do both at this level is unheard of.
That’s also not even mentioning that he put together all of these numbers despite missing a handful of games at the end of the season. He played in 135 total matches due to an elbow/oblique injury. That didn’t stop him from achieving a 10.0 bWAR statistic either, now becoming the only player in history to achieve that mark in only 135 games.
There were 30 votes for each of these awards, with Acuna and Ohtani each receiving all 30 of them for first place. The voting states that the Los Angeles Dodgers Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman finished both second and third in the MVP race over in the National League. Then in the American League, Corey Seager and Marcus Semien, both of the Texas Rangers, finished second and third.
When reporters caught up with Ohtani to see how he felt about winning a unanimous MVP award, he was relatively modest about it. He said, “I felt like I had a really good balance this year, both offense and pitching-wise. Obviously, it was unfortunate I wasn’t able to finish the season healthy. But other than that, I was happy with the season I had.” Yes, it would make sense that Ohtani would be “happy” with having a historic season that many other players can only dream of. Who’s to say that he won’t be gunning for new records next year and beyond?