After crushing home run number 62 on Tuesday, Yankees’ star Aaron Judge got the day off on Wednesday. As a result, his season finished with an incredible, mind-blowing, MVP-caliber .311/.425/.686 line with 62 round-trippers, 133 runs, 131 RBI, 16 stolen bases, a 207 wRC+, and 11.5 fWAR. That’ll do.
With all due respect to Shohei Ohtani, Judge should win the AL MVP award. It’s closer than we all think, because Ohtani was even better in 2022 than last year when he took home the award unanimously, but Judge’s offensive campaign was historic.
Speaking of history, Judge just had the best offensive season in MLB since early-2000s Barry Bonds (yes, that includes peak Mike Trout, too) and a top 10 season in Yankees history. Oh, and it was also a top-20 season overall, offensively speaking, in the history of the game. We will back all those assessments with facts.
Here are the best offensive seasons in the history of the game, sorted by wRC+:
Weighted Runs Created Plus, or wRC+, adjusts a players’ Runs Created to account for important external factors such as ballpark or era. The league average wRC+ is considered 100, so what you are seeing are true legends of the game who have been over 100 percent better than their peers. Judge’s 2022 campaign is ranked 20th in wRC+, all-time. It has been the most productive seasons by a hitter since the days in which Bonds terrorized opposing hitters in the early-2000s. The most recent non-Bonds players on this list are Ted Williams and Mickey Mantle, both in 1957.
We talk a lot about Judge’s offense in 2022 because he is doing things we thought we wouldn’t see again, like hitting more than 60 home runs. However, his defense has also been outstanding, so let’s see what fWAR says about his performance when we combine offense, fielding, and baserunning.
With 11.5 Wins Above Replacement, Judge’s 2022 is listed as 17th all-time but is technically tied with the 15th best season ever. You could say that he has had a top-15 campaign in the history of baseball, which is … not too shabby.
Again, look at the names on that list: six seasons from Babe Ruth, three from Bonds, two by Rogers Hornsby, Ted Williams and Mantle, one from Honus Wagner, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Ty Cobb … and Judge. Mike Trout, the modern WAR king, has never had a season with 11 Wins Above Replacement — his career-high came in 2013, with 10.2. 11.5? Never.
The Yankees have had too many stars and Hall of Famers in the position players department to remember them all right now: Ruth, Gehrig, Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, Yogi Berra, Reggie Jackson, Don Mattingly, Alex Rodriguez, Derek Jeter, and many more. Judge’s 2022 performance ranks him ninth in both fWAR and wRC+: looking at those names, it’s certainly a big achievement.
Basically, Judge just had live ball era stats, or steroids era power numbers if you will. The gap between his performance and that of his peers is enormous: he is slugging .686 when the average slugging percentage in 2022 has been .395, and the second-ranked qualified hitter in slugging, Yordan Alvarez, finished at .613.
We really, sincerely hope you enjoyed Judge’s season, because we probably won’t see something similar in a while. It was that good.