AL home run record holder Aaron Judge has been named the league’s Most Valuable Player, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced. Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani finished second, followed by Astros slugger Yordan Alvarez.
Judge has been the favorite to claim the award since a few weeks into the year. The herculean slugger popped six home runs in the season’s first month and only picked up the pace from there. He topped double-digits in longballs in each of the next three months before collecting 20 more from August onwards. His homer pace hit a bit of a lull once he reached 60 and pulled within one of Roger Maris with a bit more than two weeks to play, but Judge eventually claimed the record with blasts off Tim Mayza and Jesús Tinoco.
It was an obviously historic season from a power perspective, but the three-time Silver Slugger winner’s achievements went beyond the longball. He flirted with a Triple Crown late in the season and ultimately finished second among AL qualifiers with a .311 batting average. His .425 on-base percentage paced the circuit, and his .686 slugging mark was well better than Alvarez’s second-place .613 figure. He also played a significant amount of innings in center field, adequately moving to the outfield’s most demanding position after a career spent mostly in right field.
Judge helped the Yankees to 99 wins and an American League East crown. He earned his fourth career All-Star selection, and finished in the top five in MVP balloting for the third time. It’s his first time winning the award, and it couldn’t have come at a better time personally. Judge is a first-time free agent, and his ultimate destination will be one of the storylines of the winter.
Ohtani comes in second place the year after winning his first MVP. An incomparable player, Ohtani hit 34 homers and posted a .273/.356/.519 line as a designated hitter. The right-hander also tossed a career-high 166 innings, posting a 2.33 ERA with an AL-leading 33.2% strikeout rate in 28 starts. On his pitching accomplishments alone, he finished fourth in Cy Young balloting. That’s nothing short of remarkable for a player who also finished fifth in slugging and fourth in longballs in the American League. If not for an historic offensive season from Judge, Ohtani would likely have flown to a second straight MVP.
Judge received 28 of 30 first-place votes, with Ohtani collecting the other two. They were 1-2 in some order on every ballot, while Alvarez picked up 22 third-place nods. The Houston star hit .306/.406/.613, trailing only Judge among AL players in on-base and slugging. He finished third in homers and earned his first All-Star selection and MVP finalist appearance.
Guardians third baseman José Ramírez secured six third-place votes and finished fourth overall. Astros second baseman José Altuve came in fifth, edging out Cleveland second baseman Andrés Giménez (the only player besides Alvarez and Ramírez to secure any third-place votes). Julio Rodríguez, Mike Trout, Xander Bogaerts and Cy Young winner Justin Verlander rounded out the top ten.
Full voting breakdown available here.