ANAHEIM -- Angels interim manager Phil Nevin has watched two-way star Shohei Ohtani firsthand this year and also had the chance to see Yankees superstar Aaron Judge up close when Nevin was New York’s third-base coach from 2018-21.
Judge and Ohtani are considered the top two candidates for the American League MVP Award this year, with Ohtani looking to win the award for the second straight season. Judge, though, has emerged as the early favorite after coming out of the All-Star break on a hot streak and has 46 homers and 100 RBIs in 113 games this year.
Nevin was asked who he thinks has been the AL MVP this year, and he said it’s tough to top Ohtani because he’s the best player in baseball with his ability to both hit and pitch at an elite level. But if Judge reaches 61 homers, it could be tough for Ohtani to beat him -- much like in 2012, when Mike Trout had an incredible season but Miguel Cabrera was the AL MVP because he won the Triple Crown.
“That’s a hard one for me,” Nevin said. “Love them both. To say I’d vote for one guy over another -- our guy, nobody does what our guy does. You’re talking about a top-however-many Cy Young pitcher, and he’s probably right up there in offensive categories too. So, I don’t think anybody can match those things.”
Ohtani turned in another solid outing on Monday against the Mariners despite not having his best stuff. He allowed two runs on seven hits over six innings but didn’t factor into the decision in a 6-2 loss that was marred by an ugly ninth inning that saw the Angels make several defensive miscues.
Ohtani mixed in a new pitch, as he’s starting to throw a two-seam fastball to join his plethora of pitches that includes his four-seamer, slider, splitter, curveball and cutter. He had been working on it in recent bullpen sessions and felt like it was ready to debut in a game. It’s yet another pitch that hitters will have to worry about against Ohtani going forward.
“I was messing with my [two-seamer] playing catch and in bullpens,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “And felt it was time to break it out.”