Yankees: Aaron Judge deserves the MVP Award over Jose Altuve
Fred Lynn and Ichiro Suzuki are the only players in MLB history to win both Rookie of the Year and MVP Awards in the same season. Aaron Judge of the Yankees is next.
If you believe the hype of the national media, Yankees rookie Aaron Judge will miss out on winning the American League MVP to Astros second baseman Jose Altuve.
Altuve, 27, has had a fantastic season, leading the American League in batting average (.342) and hits (203), while stealing 32 bases, hitting 24 home runs and driving in 81 runs.
Judge, on the other hand, leads the AL in four categories, home runs (51), runs (127), walks (126) and slugging (.625). He’s also second in RBI (113) and on-base percentage (.421).
He’ll become the first rookie to lead his league in homers, runs and walks — and his 281 times on base this season is only second to Kevin Seitzer‘s rookie record of 289 — 30 years ago.
MLB players age 25-or-younger all-time with at least 125 runs and 125 BB in a season are Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Judge. That’s it.
The fact that Judge strikes out in bunches in almost irrelevant in this new era of baseball.
Listen to any number of well-educated baseball minds and they’ll tell you organizations are no longer concerned with the amount of K’s a player has if their value can be measured elsewhere — and clearly, without Judge’s power bat in the Yankees’ lineup, this club would not be headed to the postseason.
Throw in the fact that Judge’s batting average is still a highly respectable .284. and this argument completely takes shape.
In his last 14 games, Judge has been on an absolute tear (.391/.524/1.152 with 10 homers, 22 RBIs and 17 runs scored). This comes immediately after an arduous 55 game stretch where the gentle-giant only managed to hit .185 with 11 dingers.
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Imagine if Judge had doubled those 11 bombs following his Home Run Derby heroics — he’d have already passed Roger Maris’ iconic 61.
But aside from the staggering numbers, it’s Judge’s perseverance that should be celebrated. Obviously, pitchers began to figure him out — pitching around him so much that a new rookie record for walks was set.
Judge could have continued to spiral down — letting his detractors ring loud, but he showed a maturity well beyond his 25 years — putting the Yankees on his back where we find them today — two games back of the Red Sox for first place in the AL East with just two games remaining in the regular season.
All the while, Judge has done this on the biggest stage in the entire game, New York. He’s led a team that most pundits projected to finish in the bottom of the standings when the season began in April. On top of that, he barely made the club out of spring training!
No offense to the good people of Houston, but not only were the Astros picked to win the AL West way back when, but they added a number of key veterans in the offseason (Brian McCann, Carlos Beltran) to go along with an already potent lineup and solid pitching staff.
The Astros have had a firm grasp on their division since early August. Clearly, the AL West is one of, if not the worst divisions in all of baseball. The second place Angels are 79-81, 24 games back of the ‘Stros.
Altuve and company have played no pressure baseball and succeeded exactly where they should have. Although I’ll admit there is a certain amount of pressure associated with living up to expectations, Judge and the Yankees have done something in 2017 no one in their right mind saw coming.
Next: Yankees still alive for division crown
When people think about the ’17 regular season, Judge’s excellence on the field and his team competing a year earlier than expected is the ultimate storyline. For that, Judge deserves to join Freddie Lynn and Ichiro as only the third ever Rookie of the Year and MVP Award Winner.