Is Aaron Judge Once Again the Favorite to Win the American League MVP?
First, he's awesome. Then, he's pretty bad. Now, he's awesome again.
Against the Kansas City Royals on Monday, the Yankees' slugging outfielder hit two more home runs -- his 49th and 50th -- to set the all-time record for most homers in a rookie season.
What do 50 dingers look like all together? Glad you asked.
This is 50.
ALL 50 of @TheJudge44â€™s home runs during his record-breaking season. https://t.co/TBaJziMDzU pic.twitter.com/ns4vB21RPU
â€” MLB (@MLB) September 25, 2017
Judge has slugged 13 dingers this month, his greatest single-month output this season, and he has a slash line of .296/.436/.831 in September. He also has four multi-home run games in his last 14 outings, and Judge joins a select group of Major Leaguers with his combination of power and patience at the plate this season.
50 HR and 120 BB in a single MLB season:
Babe Ruth (4x)
Mark McGwire (2x)
â€” ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 25, 2017
Judge's hot streak follows an ice-cold 46-game stretch that saw him bat .176 with 70 strikeouts. It was during that time that a number of other American League players seemed to pass him in the MVP race -- notably Jose Altuve, Jose Ramirez, Mike Trout and Francisco Lindor. But in the midst of this hot streak, in the season's final week, Judge has reasserted himself as a favorite to take home the AL MVP award.
Here is how the candidates stack up heading into play on Tuesday, and we'll use Wins Above Replacement (WAR) from both Fangraphs and Baseball-Reference.
Judge is once again atop the leaderboard in Fangraphs' version of WAR, slightly ahead of Altuve, but Altuve has Judge beat in Baseball Reference's version of WAR. Judge's chief attribute is his power and on-base ability. However, Altuve has the on-base skills along with plus defense at an up-the-middle position and outstanding baserunning ability.
And let's not forget the incredible season being had by Trout, who, although he missed more than a month of the season, has slugged 30 home runs, is third in fWAR, and has Judge beat in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, weighted runs created (wRC+) and weighted on base average (wOBA). Ramirez and Lindor are also in the mix, but they probably don't have as good an argument as Judge, Altuve or Trout.
It seems ridiculous that the one week out of a six-month season could determine who wins the MVP award, but it looks like things could be decided over these final days.