Aaron Judge has been phenomenal this season. The 30-year-old right fielder declined a contract extension offer earlier this year, and since then he has been the best player in the American League.
Heading into the middle of August the Yankees are the second-best team in the American League. New York is 71-41, 0.5 games behind the Astros, who are 72-41, for the best record in the AL. As a result, Judge is the favorite to win AL MVP, but could other players still win the award?
Aaron Judge’s 2022 So Far
Judge has arguably been the best player in baseball over the past few months. He leads the MLB in WAR among position players with 7.1 according to FanGraphs. Nolan Arenado is the only other position player with six WAR so far this season.
This season, Judge has already hit 45 home runs, only seven short of his career-high of 52, which he hit in 2017 when he won AL Rookie of the Year and finished second in MVP voting. His 99 RBI also leads the MLB, and his OPS of 1.078 is also the league’s best.
In addition, Judge has also played center field often this year after spending most of his career playing in right field. Despite playing the new position, Judge has one out above average in center field and has played solid defense at the position.
In 2022, Judge also has the most total bases in the league and the most runs scored. His offensive production is one of the main reasons the Yankees have become one of the league’s best teams this season.
Because of his success this season Judge is the favorite to win this year’s American League MVP award. With a month and a half of the season left, it is unclear if any other player in the AL can compete with Judge to win the award.
Contenders for Judge to Win the Award
Shohei Ohtani, who won last year’s AL MVP award, has had another excellent season this year. Offensively, Ohtani hasn’t been as outstanding in 2022 as he was in 2021. His OPS this year of .847 is .118 points lower than his OPS last season, which was .965.
However, on the mound, Ohtani has been even better this year than he was last year. His ERA of 2.68 is lower than last season’s 3.18. In addition, he is striking out two more batters per nine innings than he was last year, and already has more strikeouts in 2022 than he did in 2021 despite having thrown almost 20 fewer innings.
Despite his excellent performance, Ohtani has only 5.9 WAR according to FanGraphs, 1.2 WAR less than Judge has so far this season. Ohtani could still compete to win the AL MVP award, but Judge’s first half of the season makes it unlikely he will win the award for the second year in a row.
Yordan Alvarez is another contender to win the AL MVP award, however, he plays as a DH for the Astros. Alvarez’s offensive performance has been outstanding. He has 31 home runs and 74 RBI this season, and his OPS of 1.033 is second in the American League behind Judge. However, the fact that he is frequently a DH and has 4.8 WAR compared to Judge’s 7.1 WAR means it is unlikely he will win his first AL MVP award.
Other contenders such as Jose Ramirez and Rafael Devers, who are second and fourth in the AL in WAR, are almost three WAR behind Judge heading into the last month and a half of the season. As a result, Judge is extremely likely to win his first MVP award.
Judge has had a fantastic season, and he is one of the main reasons the Yankees are a World Series favorite. Heading into the middle of August, he is the favorite to win the AL MVP award, and it isn’t clear if any other player could compete with him to win the award this season.