Absent for Over 50 Games, Aaron Judge Gives Shohei Ohtani Tough Competition in Elite Award Nomination

Published 10/07/2023, 9:00 AM EDT

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2023’s regular season is over. Teams not playing October baseball are reflecting on what went wrong, getting ready for 2024. Meanwhile, the league is rounding up the best of its talents who deserve award-worthy praise. As far as the American League is concerned, Shohei Ohtani has been at the top of his game all season. But as usual, giving him tough competition is Aaron Judge.

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The two-way sensation has been a marvel to watch this year, giving his best on both sides of the ball. While he pitched like a Cy Young-worthy candidate, Shotime’s offensive production has been equally praise-worthy. Giving the Los Angeles Angels player stiff competition is the captain of the New York Yankees. Once again, the two are up against each other for a power-hitting title.

Aaron Judge Joins Shohei Ohtani for Award Nomination Despite Serious Toe Injury

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June 3, 2023, was a dark day in Yankees’ history. Aaron Judge, in an effort to make a fantastic catch, rammed his toe into the Dodger Stadium outfield wall. The captain caught the ball, stealing a home run, but the move took him out of the game for two months, more than 50 games. The Bronx’s baseball season looked to be over. Then, in a miraculous comeback, Judge produced astonishing numbers once again.

It even seemed like a postseason run was possible before the roster collapsed. The same happened with the Halos, while their lone star shone brightly. For both their efforts, Ohtani and Judge are now nominated for a Hank Aaron Award, given for the best offensive production.

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If the Yankees outfielder had not missed significant playing time, it’s possible he would have put up the same, or even better, numbers than in 2022. The reigning AL MVP set a record for home runs in a single season at 62, and even with an injured toe, he climbed up to 37 in 2023. Ohtani, on the other hand, leads the AL with 44 and had he not been hampered by an injury of his own, the Japanese sensation could have come close to Judge’s last year’s remarkable feat.

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Ohtani’s Fizzled Season End Due to Injury Setbacks

Missing almost all of September, the Angels slugger underwent a second elbow surgery for a UCL tear that will keep him away from the mound in 2024. Even hitting was out of the question after August-end due to a right oblique strain.

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Playing what was likely his last season in Angels red, Ohtani is now headed toward an unprecedented free agency and a huge contract. While Judge is currently the highest-paid Yankees player, his AL counterpart is highly anticipated to surpass him in this respect.

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Written by:

Arunima Bhanot

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Arunima Bhanot is an MLB writer at EssentiallySports. Her tryst with MLB was accidental, but what followed was nothing short of a pursuit of excellence. Arunima's articles have been recognized as Editor's Picks on multiple occasions, highlighting her exceptional attention to detail and insightful coverage.
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Edited by:

Deepanshi Bajaj

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