Does Guerrero Jr. have a chance against Ohtani?

The youth movement in baseball is real, and if you need some proof look no further than this year’s MVP race.

Half of the six finalists finished this season at 22, proving that experience isn’t everything. The other half features a two-way star, a former MVP, and a position-switched and powerful center fielder.

Find out what stands out from each MVP candidate here:

AL MVP candidates

Shohei Ohtani – Los Angeles Angels

155 G | .257 BA | 46 RH | 100 RBI | 158 OPS + | 5.1 fWAR

23 GS | 130.1 IP | 3.18 ERA | 156 KB | 141 ERA + | 3.0 fWAR

As a lone hitter, Ohtani’s production might have been enough to put him in the MVP conversation. But of course, he’s more than just a hitter.

This season, Ohtani has delivered a two-way Babe-Ruthian performance unlike anything that has been seen by this generation or the previous one. This allowed him to rack up the highest WAR by Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs metrics.

He’s in selection company as a batter, one of seven with over 400 home plate appearances and 150 OPS + or better, and as a pitcher, one of 17 with over 100 innings and 140 ERA + or better. . As you would expect, he is the only player to have accomplished both.

The 27-year-old finished just two home runs on the MLB lead, while striking out 10.8 batters per nine innings. No one is supposed to be able to do this.

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. – Toronto Blue Jays

161G | .311 BA | 48 hours | 111 RBI | 169 OPS + | 6.7 fWAR

It seems unfair to view Guerrero Jr.’s first two MLB seasons as disappointments – despite grand expectations – given his young age and the fact that he consistently produced an above-average OPS rate (109 OPS + out of 183 games in total). But phew, the 22-year-old’s breakout campaign this year was quite a sight to see.

Guerrero, a former consensus best prospect in baseball, matched the bill by tying for the league lead in home runs, leading the majors in total bases (363) and winning the Hank Aaron Award as the AL’s top hitter.

Winner or loser, Guerrero is already an MVP recipient: he became the youngest All-Star Game MVP at this year’s midsummer event in Colorado.

Marcus Semien – Toronto Blue Jays

162 G | .265 BA | 45 hours | 69 product points | 133 OPS + | 6.6 fWAR

Semien has earned every penny – and more – of his one-year, $ 18 million contract with the Blue Jays this season. He played in every game, won his first Silver Slugger Award, and appeared in his first All-Star Game. He’s also posted new career highs in home runs, RBIs, steals (15) and stroke percentage (0.538).

Oh, and let’s not forget he became a primary second baseman for the first time in his career, earning his first Gold Glove Award. No matter how high Toronto’s expectations were for the nine-season veteran, he undoubtedly exceeded them.

Good timing by Semien to show up just before walking to free agency. In a class of star-studded midfielders, his name is among those who shine the most.

NL MVP Candidates

Bryce Harper – Philadelphia Phillies

141G | .309 BA | 35 hours | 84 RBI | 179 OPS + | 6.6 fWAR

Two-time award winner Hank Aaron is looking for his second MVP, having won his first in 2015 with the Nationals. At the time, Harper was a man of the future of refereeing age; now his 13-year, $ 330 million prize is the biggest free agent pact in league history.

Big direct deposits come with big expectations. Considering that Harper was booed by his own fans Barely a month into his debut season in Philadelphia, it would come a long way with the notoriously obnoxious fan base for him to earn MVP honors now.

The MLB leader in doubles (42), slugging percentage (.615) and OPS + made sure to leave a strong impression in the stretch race, posting an OPS of 1.194 as of August.

Juan Soto – Washington Nationals

151G | .313 BA | 29 RH | 95 RBI | 175 OPS + | 6.6 fWAR

Soto is a hitter beyond his years in many ways, including his level of patience unmatched by his peers. Soto was in the 100th percentile in pursuit rate this season, as tracked by Baseball Savant, which translated into MLB highs in steps (145) and percentage on base (0.465).

That’s a lot of Soto Shuffling.

As disciplined and efficient as Soto has been all season, he really improved him in the second half. After the all-star break, the outfielder safely reached more than half of his home plate appearances (0.525 OBP). He also walked 87 times, an amount that only five other hitters have cleared all season.

Fernando Tatis Jr. – San Diego Padres

130 G | .282 BA | 42 hours | 97 RBI | 166 OPS + | 6.1 fWAR

A shoulder injury cost Tatis 32 games, leaving baseball fans and pundits wondering how far his best NL home run tally could have climbed. Still, in the strikes he had, Tatis was the typical bat-knockdown and reel-filling phenomenon we’ve grown used to in three seasons.

His fieldwork was less spectacular: no shortstop with more than 60 starts had a lower defensive percentage (0.940), and only Bo Bichette made more errors (24 to 21 for Tatis).

As a result, Tatis was invited to experiment in the outfield for the first time as a pro, making 23 appearances between center and right. Still, leading the league in the home circuits, at 22, while balancing the learning curve of a new position and recovery from injury is downright impressive.

About Kristina McManus

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