Yankees’ Aaron Judge doesn’t need the home run record to be MVP

Daniel Cunningham
aaron judge, yankees
Sep 20, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge (99) rounds the bases after hitting a solo home run against the Pittsburgh Pirates during the ninth inning at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees clinched the American League East last night with a 5-2 win over the Toronto Blue Jays. It was a huge moment for the Yanks who won their first division title since 2019 and just their second division title since 2012.

In a night where the champaign was popping, Aaron Judge remained stuck at 60 home runs. Judge has been stuck at 60 home runs now for seven games. It’s Judge’s second longest homerless drought of the season and it comes at a bad time considering time is running short.

While he hasn’t tied or broken the record yet, Judge is still having tremendous at-bats. He’s still leading the AL in all three triple crown categories and his on-base percentage has swelled to .425 because he’s walking an astronomical amount. Last night he had four walks in five plate appearances.

Judge has all the pressure of the world on his shoulders to break the record and he’s receiving fewer pitches to hit than ever. Nobody wants to be the guy who gave up a record tying or breaking home run. The pitches Judge is getting to hit, his timing has been off just a little.

My opinion is this: Judge is going to at least tie the AL record. I don’t see him going the rest of the season without a single home run. Will he break the record comes down to Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone. Boone has already hinted at giving Judge time off after the division is clinched.

Yankees’ Judge doesn’t need the record

I saw a delusional Angels fan on Twitter yesterday that stated if Judge doesn’t break the record, Shohei Ohtani should be the MVP. Indicating that Judge only deserves the award if he breaks the AL home run record.

While I would love to say this is an isolated comment, it’s littered all over the Shohei Ohtani fan club. Then of course you have your people like Ben Verlander who think even if Judge hit 100 home runs in a single season that Shohei Ohtani should be the MVP.

What Shohei Ohtani has done is unbelievable. He’s a true unicorn and we very well might never see someone like him again. That being said, he has not been the most valuable player in the American League this year. That distinction belongs to Aaron Judge regardless if he breaks the record.

Judge very well might win the triple crown. If he does that, he’ll become the first man in history to win the triple crown while hitting 60+ home runs. The second word of the award is the one that brings up the greatest amount of debate. How do you view the world valuable?

Valuable

Do you say who is the best singular player in a vacuum? If so, it’s hard to deny Shohei Ohtani given the fact that he’s a top-ten pitcher and hitter in the AL. However, if there’s any player you can make the argument is better than a two-way talent like Ohtani, it’s 2022 Aaron Judge.

He’s so far ahead of everyone offensively that it essentially wipes out the advantage Ohtani will typically have. Not too mention he’s played gold glove level defense for the Yankees in right field as well as center field. Aaron Judge does it all and he’s been the best player in baseball this season in my opinion.

Not only has he been the best player, he is the sole reason the Yankees won the division. During that stretch in August, Aaron Judge was the offense, literally. There was a series where he scored every run. If the Yankees don’t have Aaron Judge, they don’t build that huge lead early in the season in the first place, but more importantly, they would’ve completely lost the lead in the second half.

I honestly don’t think the Yankees are a playoff team without him. Hard to get more valuable than that. We shouldn’t normalize how special Shohei Ohtani is. That being said, we also shouldn’t overlook how special and remarkable Aaron Judge’s season is. Ohtani is going to be a top-two MVP finisher every year. This year, he should be second and to me, there’s not a great argument to put him first.