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Aaron Judge named American League MVP finalist

The superstar slugger and gem of the 2022 free agent class is the heavy favorite to finally win his first MVP.

Championship Series - Houston Astros v New York Yankees - Game Four Photo by Elsa/Getty Images

The Baseball Writers’ Association of America has released the finalists in this year’s awards voting, and in the least surprising news of the offseason, Aaron Judge has been named an AL MVP finalist for the second time in his career. Having clubbed a record-breaking 62 home runs and sitting comfortably as MLB’s leader in WAR, Judge is the prohibitive favorite in a race that features two other deserving candidates were it any other year. He is opposed by Shohei Ohtani — the defending AL MVP — and World Series winner Yordan Alvarez.

While MVP is not entirely a WAR award, racking up over two wins more than second-place finisher and co-finalist Ohtani positions Judge nicely to win his first MVP and deny the Angels’ superstar a chance to defend his crown. Breaking the AL single-season home run record will certainly favor heavily in Judge’s case, and though he narrowly missed out on the Triple Crown, an MVP on his mantle would be welcome compensation.

Judge’s 11.4 fWAR this season sits tied with Mickey Mantle’s MVP-winning 1957 campaign for the 17th-best season in MLB history. He led the league in virtually every offensive category both traditional and analytical, ending the year with a wRC+ of 207, which ties Ted Williams’ marks in 1947 and 1954 for the 20th-highest wRC+ in a single-season ever. And depending on your view toward the level of competition across eras — particularly pitching — a strong argument could be made that Judge just turned in the greatest offensive season of all time.

None of us will forget the moment when Judge broke Roger Maris’ 61-year-old record, whose 1961 record-setting campaign gave him back-to-back MVP wins, repeating the feats of Mickey Mantle and Yogi Berra in the mid-50s.

Of course, many Yankees fans remember how Judge was the favorite to win the 2017 AL MVP to go alongside his AL Rookie of the Year nod, but was robbed by a certain Astro of dubious accomplishment, so I guess you could say there’s no such thing as a guarantee in end-of-the-year awards voting, regardless of setting a single-season home run record (Judge set the rookie home run record in 2017 with 52, a feat which was broken two years later by Pete Alonso).

Should Judge again have the award stolen out from under him, it would be the first time that the MLB wins leader did not capture the MVP since, you guessed it, that 2017 season. His 11.4 wins would also represent the second-greatest season to not be awarded an MVP in the BBWAA era, trailing only the great robbery of 1942, when Williams lost out to the Yankees’ Joe Gordon despite winning the AL Triple Crown and accruing almost three more wins (11.6 vs. 8.8).

On the other hand, should Judge win, he would be the first Yankee to take home the prize since Alex Rodriguez in 2007 (another monster season). It would be the 21st time that a Yankee was named MVP since the BBWAA started determining the winner in 1931, allowing him to join the ranks of Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, Joe Gordon, Spud Chandler, Phil Rizzuto, Yogi Berra, Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, Elston Howard, Thurman Munson, Don Mattingly, and the aforementioned A-Rod.

For those interested, the finalists for the other awards are listed below.

Nolan Arenado (Cardinals)
Paul Goldschmidt (Cardinals)
Manny Machado (Padres)

AL Cy Young
Dylan Cease (White Sox)
Alek Manoah (Blue Jays)
Justin Verlander (Astros)

NL Cy Young
Sandy Alcantara (Marlins)
Max Fried (Braves)
Julio Urías (Dodgers)

AL Rookie of the Year
Steven Kwan (Guardians)
Julio Rodríguez (Mariners)
Adley Rutschman (Orioles)

NL Rookie of the Year
Brendan Donovan (Cardinals)
Michael Harris II (Braves)
Spencer Strider (Braves)

AL Manager of the Year
Terry Francona (Guardians)
Brandon Hyde (Orioles)
Scott Servais (Mariners)

NL Manager of the Year
Dave Roberts (Dodgers)
Buck Showalter (Mets)
Brian Snitker (Braves)

Although those other awards will be announced sooner, the AL (and NL) MVP will be revealed on Thursday, November 17th at 6:00 p.m. ET, so be sure to rejoin us for coverage of the news in 10 days’ time.