One of the best seasons in the history of baseball now has a trophy to go along with it.
Aaron Judge has been named the 2022 American League Most Valuable Player. The award is rightly deserved, as Judge put up once-in-a-lifetime numbers.
Judge hit 62 home runs, breaking Roger Maris’ AL home run record of 61 — which he set in 1961, 61 years ago. But that’s just a microcosm of how historic his season was.
Aside from homers, he also led the majors in RBI (131), on-base percentage (.425), slugging percentage (.686), runs (133), OPS+ (211) and total bases (391). His 111 walks were tops in the American League, and his .311 batting average ranked second in the AL, putting him in the Triple Crown conversation until the last couple of days of the season.
Some may argue that this should be Judge’s second AL MVP Award; in 2017, he finished second to Jose Altuve. That season, though, is now notorious for the Houston Astros’ sign-stealing scandal. Judge received two first-place votes that year to Altuve’s 27, despite the cheating and also having plenty of better stats than Altuve.
In the same breath, some may argue that Judge robbed Shohei Ohtani, who finished in second place this season. While not leading the AL in any category, Ohtani is still a unicorn — he hit 34 home runs and drove in 95 runs while owning the sixth-lowest ERA in all of baseball (2.33) and the best K/9 (11.9) in the majors.
Ohtani had a higher OPS than perennial All-Stars like Mookie Betts, Pete Alonso, Jose Ramirez, Carlos Correa and Juan Soto, and a lower ERA than aces like Max Fried, Shane Bieber, Jacob deGrom, Corbin Burnes, Framber Valdez and Zack Wheeler. But Judge’s record-breaking season was just too much for the voters to ignore.
Judge is the first Yankee to win the MVP since Alex Rodriguez did so in 2007, and he is now the hottest free agent on the market after spending his first seven seasons in the Bronx. But owner Hal Steinbrenner wants to make sure he remains in pinstripes for life.
“I’ve absolutely conveyed that I want him to be a Yankee for the rest of his life,” Steinbrenner said at the MLB owners meetings via ESPN. “No doubt about that. He knows that.”
Judge received 28 of the 30 first-place votes, while Ohtani received two — he received the remaining second-place votes.