Aaron Judge was named American League Most Valuable Player on Thursday night, capping a historic season during which he broke the league’s single-season home run record.
Judge received 28 first-place votes from the panel of 30 Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters, with the other two going to Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels. Judge finished with 410 total points in voting, Ohtani had 280 and Yordan Alvarez of the Houston Astros was third with 232.
Judge, 30, hit his 62nd homer on the second-to-last night of the regular season to surpass Roger Maris’ long-standing AL mark of 61.
In his seventh season with the New York Yankees, Judge also led the major leagues in RBIs (131), runs (133), on-base percentage (.425) and slugging percentage (.686). He led the AL with 111 walks and ranked second with a .311 batting average. In the field, he did not commit an error.
“It’s tough to put to words,” Judge said on MLB Network. “It’s an incredible, incredible moment. A lot of hard work throughout the years to get to this point. I got a lot of people to thank. I go all the way back to coaches in travel ball, to Little League, high school, college, guys I’ve worked with through the minor leagues, major league. I always feel like any award you get, it’s never an individual award. It’s a team effort through and through.”
Judge has since hit free agency and is expected to command a massive contract, whether from the Yankees or another club.
Judge was second in MVP voting in 2017 and fourth last year. Now he’s become the first Yankee since Alex Rodriguez (2005, 2007) to win the award.
He said he only had a chance to reflect on his season after New York’s season had ended.
“I was trying to grind the year out all year,” Judge said. “I was focused on trying to win games for the Yankees and do whatever I can for that game, tonight. Win and wake up and do the same thing the next day. So it was tough to really enjoy it because of the ups and downs throughout the year. You’re chasing the division, you’re chasing a good spot in the postseason.”
The Yankees won the AL East at 99-63 with Judge carrying their offense through the second half of the season. They reached the ALCS, where they were swept by the Houston Astros in four games.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone released prepared statements congratulating Judge on the award.
“He was incredible in every facet of the game in 2022 and put up a season that ranks with the very best of all time,” Cashman said. “Aaron’s success was especially meaningful for our organization as we’ve been able to watch him grow throughout his professional career into the player and leader he has become — an offensive force in the batter’s box, a run preventer wherever we’ve put him in the field and someone who sets the tone in the clubhouse with his relentless commitment to winning. He has been our MVP for quite some time now, and this honor couldn’t be more deserved.”
New York has had 23 MVP winners all-time, with the list also including Babe Ruth (1923), Lou Gehrig (1927, 1936), Joe DiMaggio (1939, 1941, 1947), Joe Gordon (1942), Spud Chandler (1943), Phil Rizzuto (1950), Yogi Berra (1954, 1955), Mickey Mantle (1956, 1957, 1962), Maris (1960, 1961), Elston Howard (1963), Thurman Munson (1976) and Don Mattingly (1985).
Ohtani, the defending AL MVP, was in the conversation to repeat despite Judge making history. The two-way star went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts and garnered him fourth place in Cy Young Award voting. He added 34 home runs and 95 RBIs with a .273 batting average and a .519 slugging percentage.
–Field Level Media