1. Aaron Judge
Did you need to know this was the top choice? Judge is entering a contract year and he did what he needed to do in 2021: he stayed healthy, was the team’s most consistent player, and was a top player in the game.
After the season ended, he also said he wanted to be a Yankee for life. What else does anybody need to know?
Judge is a plus player on both sides of the ball and was ninth in MLB according to fWAR. The only players ahead of him were Trea Turner, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Bryce Harper, Marcus Semien, Juan Soto, Jose Ramirez, Fernando Tatis Jr., and Carlos Correa. Those guys are either the highest-paid players in the game or will be very soon.
Care for some more cool stats? Judge was sixth in wRC+, eighth in wOBA and 10th in defensive runs saved.
Before this season, it was tough to justify giving Judge close to $200 million, but that’s no longer a discussion, even though he’s entering his age-30 season. He’s the reason the Yankees didn’t come in fourth in the AL East. His steady production kept the offense from crashing and burning. His ability to play center field helped with lineup flexibility. His bat protected a number of other hitters who were able to succeed due to his presence.
Some fans would like to see some better postseason production, but even though he has a career .230 average in 35 playoff games, he also has 11 home runs and an .843 OPS. He’s delivered plenty of times. The Yankees just haven’t been able to put it all together, and naturally everyone is taking blame when that happens.
Judge is the guy. End of story. And this is not a distraction you want hanging over your head throughout next season.