For Los Angeles Angels interim manager Phil Nevin, there is no debate: Shohei Ohtani is the American League MVP.
"I've said it before: He's the most valuable player of our game right now," Nevin told reporters Saturday. "Until somebody can come in and do the things he does on both sides, I don't see it going any other way. I love Aaron Judge like a son, but I'll continue to say it: [Ohtani] can take over a baseball game like nobody can."
Nevin spent the previous four seasons as a coach with the New York Yankees, so he has insight into the brilliance of Aaron Judge, who is having perhaps the finest power-hitting performance of the post-steroid era.
Judge enters Sunday's games leading MLB with 57 home runs and 121 runs batted in. His homer total is the second-highest since the sport began instituting a performance-enhancing-drug policy, behind only Giancarlo Stanton's 59 dingers in 2017. The slugger has 17 games remaining in the season to surpass Roger Maris' Yankees record for homers in a season (61).
Ohtani, the sport's two-way superstar and reigning AL MVP, has arguably surpassed his performance from a year ago. He's hitting 266/.356/.536 with 34 home runs and 89 runs batted in, ranking fourth in the AL in homers while also pitching like a Cy Young contender. The righty has a 13-8 record with a 2.43 ERA and 1.04 WHIP while striking out 196 batters in 148 innings pitched.
What Ohtani is doing, being a superstar at the plate and on the mound, is unprecedented. That said, the Angels are once again languishing out of the playoff race, while Judge's Yankees are leading the AL East and have the second-best run differential in baseball.
While most of the sport has generally acknowledged baseball is an individual sport masquerading as a team sport, it's hard to see Ohtani being able to overcome Judge's equally historic season with the voters.