Aaron Judge was by far the biggest New York Yankees name at the 2022 MLB All-Star Game, but he was a footnote compared to the other four participants (and even Gerrit Cole, who nailed it on the broadcast!).
Sadly, Judge spent most of the festivities fending off contract questions as well as Juan Soto trade rumors, which one might assume distracted him a bit. He finished the game 0-for-2 with two strikeouts and his mic went out when he was supposed to spend a half-inning talking with the FOX broadcast. Not an ideal few days.
Luckily, though, Clay Holmes was his usual dominant self, Nestor Cortes and Jose Trevino provided premier entertainment with their quirks and good feels, and Giancarlo Stanton won the All-Star Game MVP for his mammoth (and historic) game-tying two-run homer in the fourth inning.
Tuesday night was Stanton’s first All-Star nod as a Yankee (he was named a starter) and it served as a homecoming for the 32-year-old, who grew up in southern California attending games at Dodger Stadium.
In his first All-Star Game appearance since 2017 when he was a Miami Marlin, Stanton served as the offensive catalyst for the AL side and helped bring home a victory (the league’s ninth straight!), earning him MVP honors.
Some fans might not view it as much of anything because it’s a meaningless game meant for fun and revenue, but it’s truly a paramount moment in Stanton’s tenure as a Yankee, especially after all he’s been through.
Giancarlo Stanton winning All-Star Game MVP was important for his Yankees tenure
Stanton’s arrival in the Bronx after the trade with the Marlins came with colossal expectations, and the slugger actually delivered in 2018, helping carry the team to a 100-win season while Judge missed considerable time with an injury. He hit 38 homers and drove in 100 runs. Off to a great start.
But then came 2019. Stanton played in just 18 regular season games and then teased fans with a two-game return in the ALCS (and he homered in the Game 1 win!) before being ruled out for the rest of the series. The Yankees lost to the Astros in six games. Stanton’s absence due to injury was the literal difference.
Then came 2020. More injuries. He played in just 23 games (out of 60) of a rollercoaster regular season before blowing the doors of the Tampa Bay Rays in the ALDS … but the Yankees fell short in Game 5 due to countless other failures, and his earth-shattering performance on offense was largely swept under the rug.
Then came the first half of 2021. Fans were finally ready for a full season of Stanton because they hadn’t gotten anything close to a taste since 2018. His performance wasn’t exactly bad, but it was wildly inconsistent, streaky, and untimely. The frustrations boiled over, especially when the Yankees made it clear they were cost-cutting following the pandemic. Stanton simply had to be blamed because of his $325 million contract. If he wasn’t playing at least in the ballpark of that number, New York wasn’t going to accept it. Not only did he hit the IL that May, but he had a streak of 15 games (51 at-bats) where he logged just one extra-base hit. On July 30, he was somehow OPSing .794.
But Stanton rolled with the punches (sorry, we’re guilty of throwing many, too!). He tuned out the noise. He belted 19 homers and 51 RBI in his final 54 games to thrust the Yankees into the playoffs (and destroyed the Red Sox countless times along the way) before the team’s loss in the AL Wild Card Game to Boston (where he was one of the lone sources of offensive production again).
Now, here we are in 2022. He might not be having his best season so far, but he’s found some consistency over the last full year of play, has remained healthy, and continues to lengthen the Yankees’ lineup with his fearsome presence (24 homers, 61 RBI, .835 OPS, 136 OPS+ in 76 games). He’s continued to decimate the Red Sox, too (4 homers, 9 RBI, 1.058 OPS in eight games).
He’s the first Yankee to win ASG MVP since Mariano Rivera in 2013, and the accolade only adds further novelty to the team’s special 2022 campaign. Stanton’s been a Yankee for five years now. He’s been the team’s most productive player and also the biggest source of frustration among fans. We’ve now perhaps settled somewhere in the middle. He may not be the team’s best player, but he’s still well recognized for his inimitable power and domination of the Yankees’ biggest rival.
Throw in a 457-foot bomb on national television in a game featuring the sport’s best, and Stanton’s officially nestled in beautifully in New York. And all the (ex-) haters should appreciate that because he’s here for another five.