Aaron Judge etched a permanent place in the memory of baseball fans when he set the American League single-season home run record and chased a Triple Crown down the stretch. He now has one final accolade to complete his 2022 historic he.
The New York Yankees slacker was crowned AL Most Valuable Player Thursday night, beating out the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani and the Houston Astros’ Yordan Alvarez. He is the first Yankees outfielder to win the award since Mickey Mantle in 1962.
Judge received 28 first-place votes and 410 points, edging out Ohtani (280) by 130 points. Ohtani was the only other player to receive first place, with two votes. Alvarez had 232 points to finish third.
Judge led the AL in a number of offensive categories, including home runs (62), RBI (131), slugging percentage (.686), on-base percentage (.425), OPS+ (211), and total bases ( 391). He previously finished runner-up for AL MVP in 2017 when he was the unanimous AL Rookie of the Year.
He became just the fourth major leaguer to hit 62-plus homers in a single season, joining Barry Bonds (73 in 2001), Mark McGwire (70 in 1998, 65 in ’99), and Sammy Sosa (66 in 1998, 63 in ’99). 1999). ). He fell just five runs (.311) short of Minnesota Twins infielder Luis Arraez for the batting title, which would complete the Triple Crown.
The MVP honor caps off a season that began with turmoil around contract negotiations with the Yankees as he entered the final year of his contract. The judge set a self-imposed opening day deadline to negotiate a potential extension, but the parties could not reach an agreement. Yankees general manager Brian Cashman then took the unusual step of publicly revealing the terms of the contract the team offered Judge: an eight-year, $230.5 million extension. Judge declined the offer, expecting better things if he hit the free agent market after this season.
The season got off to a relatively slow start for Judge, as he hit six homers in 75 at-bats in April. But once the calendar moved into May, the judge took off. The Yankees outfielder hit 12 homers that month, 11 in June, 13 in July, nine in August, and 10 in September before hitting No. 62 on the season’s final day in October. Judge’s 157 games played in 2022 were the most since his rookie season, the previous best year of his bWAR career (8.1).
The judge’s consistency from month to month has been the backbone for a New York offense that has struggled in places to stay healthy and produce around him. At the end of the season, he ranked second to the Dodgers in baseball, scoring 807 runs.
As Judge approached Roger Maris’ AL record of 61 homers, each of his at-bats became an event. At games both at Yankee Stadium and on the road, fans stood up whenever he entered the batter’s box and stood there for every single pitch. Members of the Yankees scrambled to seek seats on the top step of the bench to secure a seat to watch their teammate potentially make history.
Judge hit a career-high 61st home run on September 28, putting Toronto Blue Jays reliever Tim Mayza into the seventh inning of Game #1. 155 for the Yankees. The game-changing homer ended a seven-game home drought.
#62 didn’t arrive until October 4, in the Yankees’ penultimate game of the season. The record came from Texas Rangers pitcher Jesus Tinoco, one pitch lead into left field.
While Judge put together a regular season for the record book, he fell short during the postseason, hitting his worst stretch of the season as the Yankees played the Cleveland Guardians in the AL Division Series and the Houston Astros in the AL Championship Series. In nine games, Judge hit .139/.184/.306 with two homers on five hits in nine games. The eventual World Series champion Astros finished the Yankees’ season with a four-game winning streak in the ALCS.
Judge now hits the free agent market poised to land one of the biggest contracts of the offseason. Yankees general partner Hal Steinbrenner has publicly stated that he wants Judge to remain pinstriped for the rest of his career.