Aaron Judge absolutely earns deserved 2022 MVP win over Shohei Ohtani


There has never been any doubt that Aaron Judge was the best offensive player in baseball in 2022, roaming both right and center field for the New York Yankees and mashing 62 home runs while occasionally playing out of position.

Judge posted the undisputed best walk year in big-league history, betting on himself after Brian Cashman leaked the Yankees’ preseason contract offer and preparing for prosperity once his new contract terms are settled — wherever that may be (please be here).

Surely, the Hank Aaron Award winner who redefined the American League home run record had the kind of history-making season that would remain unchallenged in the pursuit of the MVP trophy? Not only did Judge crack the 60-homer mark for the first time since the Steroid Era, but he also buoyed the Yankees as the team’s sole offensive performer during a month-long stretch where they nearly lost their 15-game AL East lead before eventually returning to the status quo.

Well, hate to break it to you all, but there’s another guy in this league who both hit and pitched. For a 73-89 third-place team that fired their manager.

What does one define as “valuable”? Literally, there is no one who can ever provide as much value as Shohei Ohtani, who does two things at an All-Star level (though, to be fair, he doesn’t play outfield defense, which Judge provides in spades). But is this an “Elite, Unmatchable Player” award? Or is team success, whether it’s the award’s defining factor or not, weighed at all?

Yes, on some level, Yankee fan arguments have been Yankees-centric, and have reflected a bout of Ohtani fatigue after just a few years of well-deserved praise. In this particular year, though, Ohtani was fantastic. Judge was better. Aaron Judge is your AL MVP.

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Yankees’ Aaron Judge wins 2022 American League MVP over Shohei Ohtani

WAR, once the be all, end all of MVP debates during the early Mike Trout era, favored Judge significantly.

The offensive counting stats? Also favored Judge significantly. He led the AL — and also MLB in its entirety — in homers, RBI, runs scored, total bases, slugging, and OPS+ during an offensively dead campaign. That deadness only increased his margin of victory, though. Judge’s 2022 would look spectacular in any offensive environment.

Ohtani’s pitching success? Hmm. Maybe not so much, actually.

This was not, however, “another Jose Altuve situation.” Altuve was a quirky, throwback team leader who excelled for an unexpected team in 2017. Judge was a rookie on the most popular (and, concurrently, most reviled) franchise in the sport. Altuve and Judge tied in WAR, while the diminutive second baseman blew the Yankees slugger away in batting average.

Judge clipped Altuve in all power-based offensive categories. And by “clipped,” we mean demolished. 2017 was a thievery of epic proportions, and a victory for old-school stats and the constant search for something more interesting.

2022 was Judge’s victory over the same biases.

If you demand Ohtani take home this award ad infinitum for redefining the sport as we know it, that is your right. It’s an impossible-to-rebut argument. Pitching every fifth day at an ace level is likely more important than defense, no matter how you skew the numbers.

There was no skewing necessary to get to a place where Judge was more valuable than Ohtani in this specific year, though. Judge had more value over a theoretical replacement player. The Angels used the so-called extra value afforded to them by Ohtani occupying two roles to sign … no one of consequence.

It took an awful lot for Judge — or anyone else — to earn an MVP win over Ohtani. But earn it he did.