Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who belted an American League record 62 home runs, was named baseball’s AL Most Valuable Player on Thursday, ahead of Angels star Shohei Ohtani.
Judge broke Roger Maris’s iconic single-season AL home run record, which was the Major League record when Maris achieved it in 1961.
Judge led the majors not only in homers but also runs-batted-in (131), total bases (391) and runs scored (133).
In what was expected to be a tight race for the honor with 2021 MVP Ohtani, Judge — who powered the Yankees to the AL East title — received 28 first-place votes and Ohtani two in balloting of 30 members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Gold Goldschmidt won the National League MVP, the first Cardinal to scoop the award since Albert Pujols in 2009.
Goldschmidt, 34, enjoyed a career year, leading the NL with a career-best slugging percentage of .578 as he helped St. Louis claim the top spot in the NL Central division.
He had a .317 batting average with 35 home runs and 115 runs-batted-in and received 22 first-place votes to beat out teammate Nolan Arenado, who earned a 10th straight Gold Glove award at third base and belted 30 home runs.
But it was Judge’s astonishing display of power that mesmerized MLB in 2022.
Ohtani, the two-way star who won the AL MVP in 2021, said during the MLB TV broadcast announcing the award that he tuned in to watch Judge’s exploits.
“I was definitely checking out what Judge was doing every day, just as a baseball fan,” the Japanese star said.
Judge became the first Yankees outfielder to win the award since Mickey Mantle in 1962.
Judge narrowly missed out on a Triple Crown, finishing five points shy of Minnesota Twins infielder Luis Arraez for the AL batting title.
But he became just the fourth major leaguer to hit more than 62 home runs in a single season, a list led by Barry Bonds’s record 73 in 2001.
Many still consider Bonds’s achievement tainted by allegations of steroid use, and Maris’s son Roger Maris Jr., said he believed Judge’s mark should be viewed as the “legitimate” record.
Judge said during the season that in his book 73 is the record, but there was no doubt his season was one for the ages.
As he approached Maris’s mark, Judge’s at-bats became must-see events. He tied the mark on September 28 against Blue Jays relief pitcher Tim Mayza in Toronto.
He didn’t get No. 62 until October 4 in the Yankees’ penultimate game of the regular season against the Texas Rangers.
Judge’s exploits earned him the nod over Ohtani, who hit 34 home runs and as a pitcher struck out 219 batters in another outstanding season for an Angels team that nevertheless missed the playoffs for an eighth straight season.
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