Your AL MVP is…

… not Aaron Judge.

Okay, so a few months ago our resident baseball “expert” wrote that Aaron Judge had both the AL MVP and Rookie of the Year awards all sewn up. The latter is still true, as Judge performed more than well enough to take home that honor.

But the MVP is a whole other ball of wax. Since Judge’s big coming-out party at the All-Star break, where he capped his huge first half with a walk-in-the-park victory in the Home Run Derby, Judge has fallen apart at the plate.

So what’s going on? Well, the second half numbers are horrifying. Let’s take a gander.

In the first half of the season, with 84 games and 301 at-bats under his belt, Judge hit .329 with 30 HR and 66 RBI, slugging .691 and posting a more than robust 1.139 OPS. In those 301 ABs he struck out 109 times, but that’s the life of a power hitter. You can live with striking out about 35% of the time if you’ve already hit 30 bombs at the break. No one is going to bat an eye.

But in the second half? Woo lordy have the wheels fallen off. In 38 games throughout the course of 133 ABs, Judge is hitting just .188 with 7 home runs and 16 RBI as of this writing. His slugging percentage took a nose dive to .368 and his OPS has obviously followed, settling in at .716. In the aforementioned 133 ABs since the break, he struck out a staggering 60 times, pushing the 50% mark.

What does it all mean? Has major league pitching figured Judge out?

That’s a complex question to answer, but he’s seemingly reverted back to the form he displayed in 2016. This is when he saw action in 27 games for the Yankees, struck out almost 50% of the time and hit sub. 200. None of this is to crucify Judge, as all indications are he’s still likely to be a prolific power hitter in the big leagues. His first half output was likely unsustainable, and he will probably end up falling somewhere in the middle as his career progresses. 40 home run power? Absolutely. Is he a .330 hitter throughout the course of a major league season? Probably not.

Jose Altuve should be your AL MVP, plain and simple. He’s really the only true competition for Judge for the award. All he’s done is up the ante for himself, hitting .380 in the second half after posting a stellar .347 batting average with a .968 OPS in the first half of the season. He plays stellar defense, he hits for power (especially when you take into consideration his small stature), and he steals bases He’s a model of consistency when Judge has been anything but.

 

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