Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge and Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt are strong candidates to win the Most Valuable Player Award in their respective leagues.
While that hardware won’t be decided until next week, the acclaimed batters were announced Wednesday as winners of the 2022 Hank Aaron Award.
The award, which annually recognizes the best offensive performer in the American and National League, was established in 1999. Of the 46 previous winners, 22 were named MVP that same year.
Each team nominated one player for the honor and a panel of MLB.com writers selected 16 finalists – eight from each league – from the 30 nominees. The winners were chosen by a voting panel made up of Hall of Famers, including Ken Griffey Jr., Chipper Jones, Pedro Martínez, John Smoltz, Johnny Bench, Craig Biggio, Eddie Murray and Robin Yount. A fan vote at MLB.com was also included in the results.
Here is a closer look at this year's winners:
AL: Aaron Judge, Yankees
Judge entered free agency on the heels of a historic season. His AL-record 62 home runs grabbed the headlines, but Judge led all of baseball in a bevy of categories, including runs (133), RBIs (131), OBP (.425), slugging (.686), OPS (1.111) and total bases (391).
He had the highest WAR on FanGraphs (11.4) and Baseball-Reference (10.6). Over the past 65 years, only Barry Bonds recorded a loftier single-season wRC+ than Judge’s 207. He ended up five percentage points behind the Twins’ Luis Arraez in batting average (.316 to .311), which was the only hurdle that kept Judge from claiming an AL Triple Crown.
Back to those home runs, the 16-dinger gap between Judge and Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber, who finished second in the Majors with 46 homers, was the largest HR spread since the Athletics’ Jimmie Foxx led MLB by 17 homers in 1932.
Judge defeated Jose Altuve and Yordan Alvarez (Astros), Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout (Angels), Rafael Devers (Red Sox), José Ramírez (Guardians) and Julio Rodríguez (Mariners) to become the third Yankee to be honored with the Hank Aaron Award. Judge joined Derek Jeter (2006 and ‘09) and Alex Rodriguez (2007).
NL: Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
Like Judge, Goldschmidt was a Triple Crown hopeful late into the year. Even with a drop in production in September, the veteran first baseman still paced the NL in slugging percentage (.578), OPS (.981) and OPS+ (180). He also finished among the top three in the senior circuit in runs (106), RBIs (115), total bases (324), batting average (.317), OBP (.404) and WAR. A few of those marks were career bests for Goldschmidt, who has twice placed as the NL MVP runner-up.
Goldschmidt received more votes than teammate Nolan Arenado, Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts (Dodgers), Pete Alonso (Mets), Manny Machado (Padres), Austin Riley (Braves) and Schwarber this year.
Goldschmidt, who won this award in 2013 with the D-backs, is the 13th player to receive the Hank Aaron Award multiple times. Six of the previous seven NL winners were also named MVP.