Two-way super(duper)star Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels won the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player award thanks to his historically unprecedented achievements on the mound and at the plate. In 2022, he authored a fitting encore, but wound up finishing second in the MVP balloting to Aaron Judge of the Yankees.
Speaking of which, Ohtani might still have that voting outcome lodged firmly in his craw. Ohtani's manager, Phil Nevin, recently had to this to say about the matter at hand during an appearance on MLB Network Radio:
"He (Ohtani) wasn't happy about not winning the MVP, I can tell you that, but he wants to win, first and foremost."
Judge last season of course broke the AL single-season record with 62 home runs and also led the majors in OPS+, OPS, total bases, OBP, slugging percentage, RBI, and runs scored -- all while spending the majority of his defensive innings at the up-the-middle position of center field. As for Ohtani's repeat bid, he put up a OPS+ of 145 at the plate with 70 extra-base hits and 304 total bases as the Angels' primary DH. On the mound he reached new heights with an ERA+ of 172 with 219 strikeouts and a 4.98 K/BB ratio across a qualifying number of innings. For his pitching efforts, Ohtani finished fourth in the AL Cy Young vote.
As for WAR, the best public-facing measure of total player value, Ohtani's 2022 tally of 9.6 was second only to Judge's 10.6. However, it's easy to argue that difference falls within the margin for error. As for the vote itself, it wasn't especially close. Judge took 28 of 30 first-place votes, and his overall point total of 410 easily topped Ohtani's figure of 280.
Ohtani, who obviously takes a great deal of pride in his craft, is to be taken at his word when he says he was disappointed by the outcome. The 2023 season will of course provide him with a chance to return to the top of the AL MVP hierarchy, and he may indeed be the consensus favorite to do just that.