Yankees: Who has been the most valuable player in 2018?

Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
Miguel Andujar #41 of the New York Yankees (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images) /

By any measure, the Yankees have had an exceptional season this year. Entering the season, many expected the club to be competitive, and they assumed that 2018 would largely be another step toward achieving dominance. By all accounts, the team has successfully taken this critical step.

Presently, the Yankees are 91 and 57, the third best record in all of baseball. Only the Red Sox and the Astros have better records than the Yanks, with the former team having a historic year.

The Yankees should have no difficulty obtaining a wild card berth. The only question that remains is whether the club will have home-field advantage against the Oakland Athletics in the wildcard game.

With the 2018 season drawing to an end, this is an apt time to begin discussing which player has contributed the most to the success of the team over the course of the year.

Possible MVP candidates

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Prior to the All Star break, a strong case could be made for selecting Luis Severino as the MVP of the team. He was a dominant, lights-out pitcher during the first half of the season, probably the best in baseball. A Cy Young Award was in his future.

However, for some unexplained reason, he has been very inconsistent and has not pitched well since the All-Star break. Currently, Sevy is 17-8 with a 3.46 ERA, 207 strikeouts, and a 1.14 WHIP, with nearly all of his wins coming before the All-Star break.

With J.A. Happ and Masahiro Tanaka pitching effectively now, it is unlikely that Boone will ask Sevy to start the wild-card game.

Aroldis Chapman was able to fight through tendinitis the first half of the 2018 campaign. However, his condition became worse following the All-Star break. He was forced to go on the DL on August 22. At the time he was 3-0 with a 2.11 ERA in 50 appearances, recording 31 saves with 84 strikeouts in 47 innings.

He hopes to be able to pitch before the end of the season, which is good news for Yankees fans. For the most part, the excellent bullpen has made up for his absence.

Gleyber Torres was having a terrific season until he was forced on to the DL in early July and was unable to play for the Yanks for about three weeks. Once he recovered he appeared to have difficulty getting back his groove in the batter’s box. Recently, however, he has begun to show signs of returning to his pre-injury form. He has hit .277/.346/.495 with 382 at-bats, and he has been about average in the field.

Similarly, Aaron Judge was playing well before he was hit by a fastball from Kansas City Royals pitcher Jakob Junis on July 26. At the time he was batting .285/.398/.548 in 372 plate appearances, and he was playing well in the field. Yet, he has struck out 137 times, often in critical situations. Judge is now off the DL and has resumed play, but he is yet to take a swing in the batter’s box.

Although Giancarlo Stanton has 34 home runs and 89 RBIs, he is only hitting .263. He has struck out 199 times in 565 at-bats, proportionately about the same frequency as Judge. He, too, has gone down swinging in a number of key instances.

Finally, Didi Gregorius has played exceptionally well in the field, and he has hit 26 home runs and driven in 83 RBIs. However, similar to Stanton, he is only hitting .267. He was injured at the end of August and did not play for just less than three weeks. He, too, may be struggling to regain his swing from the first half of the season.

The Team MVP

Many pundits are making the case that Miguel Andujar should be voted the American League’s Rookie of the Year. In my view, he will win the American League ROY in a runaway.

An equally compelling argument can be made that he is the Yankees MVP in 2018 based on his all-around contributions to the success of the team throughout the entire year.

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Andujar’s batting average has consistently hovered between the .290 and .300 mark throughout most of the year. He currently has a .333 OBP and a respectable .522 SLG.

Most remarkable, he has collected 40 doubles this season. He is now tied with Bob Meusel (1920) for the third-most doubles by a Yankee rookie, and he is challenging Joe DiMaggio’s Yankees record of 44 doubles in 1936, over 80 years ago! In addition to his doubles total, he also has hit 24 home runs and driven in 83 RBIs.

Similarly, following a home run against the Minnesota Twins in late April, he joined Joe DiMaggio and Mickey Mantle as the only Yankees to ever have seven consecutive games with an extra-base hit under the age of 24.

Most would agree that his fielding needs improvement. Lately, however, we have seen him make several spectacular plays. He is still learning and growing at the third base position.

The main reason I believe Miggy is the Yankees MVP for 2018 is his consistency in the batter’s box throughout the entire season and, especially, because of his clutch hitting. His ability to regularly get timely hits when the team needed them most throughout the 2018 season puts him above the very good competition for Yankees MVP.

Miggy is clearly a superstar in the making. He is still quite young (23), and the Yanks and we as fans are extremely fortunate to have such a valuable player on the team.