Debating who should win Major League Baseball awards leading up to the end of each and every season has become a fandom and internet-fueled rite of passage for the baseball fans. For Yankees fans it has been a pseudo hallow conversation in recent memory. Masahiro Tanaka was an interesting Cy Young argument pre-2017 but he was not really going to win the award. Offensively, it has not been pretty. The Bronx Bombers have been devoid of any real challenger for the American League Most Valuable Player in recent memory but alas, 2017 might be changing that. Enter the Aaron Judge AL MVP debate.
Is there a case that can be made for a season that ends with Aaron Judge AL MVP? The struggles recently might put a nick in that armor but Adam Solowiei and Rich Stowe discuss that very topic in another edition of Yankees Roundtable. Will they go with Aaron Judge? Could it be Mike Trout? Maybe Chris Sale, Jose Altuve, or even someone else? Let’s find out.
Aaron Judge AL MVP Debate – The Beginning
RICH’s TAKE – Judge had a fantastic first half of the season – historic actually. He was leading in many offensive categories and was contending for the Triple Crown – all as a rookie. Only two players in history have won Rookie of the Year and MVP in the same season, Fred Lynn and Ichiro, and Judge was well on his way to being the third. However, the All Star break happened and everything fell apart. He began striking out much more (over 30 games in a row with a strikeout), began hitting less homers and his batting average “plummeted” overall (dropped from around .320 to below .290). While he is still leading the league in HRs, Runs, Slugging Percentage, BBs, and OPS, his severe drop-off in the second half will affect his MVP status especially when players such as Jose Altuve and Chris Sale are tearing it up, plus there is the return of perennial MVP candidate Mike Trout. He still has a shot at the MVP (Rookie of the Year is pretty much locked up), but in order to do so he has to figure out how to lay off the high fastballs and how to hit sliders. The pitchers in the league have figured out some weaknesses and now he needs to adjust to their adjustment and turn it around.
ADAM’S TAKE – Is Judge slumping? I think that is undeniable. Pitchers have adjusted and now he must adjust in kind. Can it happen? Of course it can. Did he just set the position player record for consecutive games with a strikeout? He sure did but power guys tend to K more than other so there should be no cause for monumental alarm. He is stilling getting on base at a remarkable clip, which you eluded to. If you live a glass half full life and look for signs of Judge adjusting back to the pitching you can look at the last three games where he is four-for-11 with two home runs and two walks. It is a small sample but does give insight into his adjustments. After all it is the 162 game season that is what defines you as an MVP candidate. Mike Trout won the MVP in 2014 and hit .265, .254, and .274 in July through September. That is well within the grasp of Judge and he is on pace to pass Trout’s numbers in all but stolen bases but Judge can still steal double-digit bags. For a pitcher to win the MVP it requires an otherworldly season and a down everyday player year in most cases. Sale has been great all year but MVP he is probably not. Altuve has been exceptional and is headed towards 30-30 with a .330+ average season but still trails in many counting stats after the Judge slump. If Judge continues to trend in the right direction he can still win the award.
Aaron Judge AL MVP Debate – The Closing Bell
RICH’S TAKE (2) – As a Yankees fan, I would love to see Judge turn it completely around, start hitting homers at a Giancarlo Stanton-like pace again, and win the MVP. I agree that the Ks aren’t as big of a deal (it just makes the pitcher work more in my opinion). Judge’s main competition will be Jose Altuve – who is leading the league in batting average, hits, OBP and OPS+. Yes, the tiny second baseman from the best team in the AL actually has a better OPS+ than Judge and his batting average is around 70 points better plus Altuve is 1st in WAR while Judge is 3rd (at the time of this writing). I do believe that Altuve playing on the best team in the AL will help his MVP cause as well. All I do know is the next month+ of the regular season should be a barn burner for both players and if Judge can mimic the first half of his season, he will give Altuve a run for the MVP money – but we cannot forget the best player in baseball, Mike Trout, because the Angels are in the playoff hunt and if they do make the playoffs it will be because Trout overcame his injury and more than likely put up another great season.
ADAM’S TAKE (2) – At this point it is clearly hard to not feel Altuve and Trout, once he gets the qualifying at-bats, are in the preverbal driver’s seat. That is the beauty of baseball and the marathon season. Two weeks, one week, or even a handful of impressive games can turn a division or MVP race on its head. All this would assume that Judge returns to production at 80 percent of what he was accomplishing in the first half. Without a doubt, September will unequivocally decide the MVP race. At the time of this writing it is 1a and 1b between Altuve and Trout but it’s close to Aaron Judge and he can shrink the gap and overtake the duo with a hot streak. The stakes go up if Judge can break Mark McGuire’s 49 home run rookie record as well. Do I truly expect him to win the MVP this season? I think it might be asking a bit much for a rookie playing his first full season in the largest baseball market on earth with a playoff berth in tow. But if he can? Can you imagine what the encore seasons will bring?
Aaron Judge AL MVP Debate – STATS AS OF 18 AUGUST
|Statistic||Mike Trout||Jose Altuve||Aaron Judge|
Aaron Judge AL MVP Debate – WRAP-UP
The debate will not be resolved here. Do you agree with Adam or Rich when it comes to possible end with Aaron Judge 2017 AL MVP? Do you have a different take? Here at NY Yankees Digest we are all for readers commenting but can we make a suggestion? Why don’t you write your own piece? It can be 3000 words or even 300. Here we encourage different opinions and want to give you a chance to build your brand. Join us and let your voice be heard. Just check out the Write With Us link to get started. Don’t worry its easy and remember you can build you brand by writing with us and not for us. That is the big difference. It is all about you in your words.