The Bronx, NY: What a depressing week – Vegas, Puerto Rico, Tom Petty, and President Whinybitch. Instead of jamming screwdrivers into my ears, I’ve decided to go to my happy place. At present, that happy place is in the person of one Aaron James Judge. The big man has had a truly remarkable season. But is he the MVP?
Aaron Judge is adopted. He was acquired with the compensatory pick the Yankees received for losing Nick Swisher in free agency. That worked out, eh? Judge hit a home run in his first career at bat, the second of back-to-backs with Tyler Austin.
A Strong Case
Judge has come a long way from winning the right field job on the last day of spring training and hitting eighth in his first game. He led the AL in homers, walks, and runs. He broke the rookie record for homers and hit the most ever at Yankee Stadium in one season. That’s right, ever.
As per FanGraphs WAR (wins against replacement player) he had the sixth best rookie season since 1901. According to wRC (weighted runs created), an advanced stat, he had the greatest season of any player in over a century.
The man made the term “exit velocity” a thing, regularly hitting homers over 120 mph. Although Giancarlo Stanton had the hardest shot at 122.2 mph, Judge had four of the top 5. He also hit the longest homer in 2017 at 495 feet on June 11. Chicks dig the long ball. And the hard ball. Wait.
The Case Against
To be fair, there are some negatives. Judge’s had a predictable and prolonged second half slump, dropping his average from around.330 down into the high two seventies. Like a volatile tech stock, he rebounded bigly in September. But it might not have been enough to make voters forget about the slump. He struck out 208 times, including at least once in a record smashing 37 straight games.
And also according to FanGraphs, Judge has been shockingly un-clutch. In fact, he’s been the worst player in the league in high leverage situations. Yikes. We Yankees fans are hoping that was an anomaly and not an A-Rodnomaly. But don’t panic, three run bombs in the third inning can be just as effective. Or so I keep telling myself. But come to think of it, his most memorable bombs are memorable because of the distance, not the situation. He hasn’t had a signature moment…yet.
The Other Contender
Jose Altuve hit .346 with 204 hits with 32 stolen bases. He’s has had a great year and his team has run away with the division. Had Judge’s September heroics led to the Yankees catching the Red Sox for the division, I think he would have won the MVP hands down. Altuve is listed at 5 foot 6, 165 pounds. My seventh grade weight. Judge is 6 foot 7 and 282 pounds. The league’s smallest man versus the league’s biggest. Both are deserving.
The Verdict: All Rise
Even though Altuve had a higher average, more hits, and more stolen bases, Judge still had a better on base percentage and scored more runs. The point of getting hits and stealing bases is to score runs, right? Judge has done it more, largely because of the walks. He walked 69 more times and scored 16 more runs than Altuve. A walk is as good as a hit, or so they say. Throw in the superior power numbers and Judge is your clear MVP.
We can be sure of one thing – Aaron Judge is no Kevin Maas. Short Matt’s apology is expected this week. Hopefully Judge will prove clutch in the playoffs and the Yankees will dispatch of the Twins, but anything can happen in one game. Look for the Yankees to try to get 5 or 6 innings out of Luis Severino and then lock it down with Green, Robertson, Betances, and Chapman. Maybe not Betances.
Let’s go Yankees! Come back tomorrow for Angry Ward’s Farewell Tour. Follow us on Twitter at @benwhit, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.