Judge 'sick to his stomach' about Astros

February 18th, 2020

TAMPA, Fla. -- Shortly after the results of the American League Most Valuable Player Award balloting were announced in November 2017, accepted his runner-up finish in stride, tapping out an Instagram post congratulating the Astros’ : “Nobody more deserving than you!”

That message vanished shortly after former Astros pitcher Mike Fiers broke the silence on Houston’s sign-stealing this past offseason. Judge confirmed on Tuesday that was no coincidence, saying that he has been “sick to his stomach” since learning about an operation that he believes cost his Yankees a chance to play in that World Series. The Yanks lost the 2017 AL Championship Series to the Astros in seven games.

“I had a lot of respect for them, the way they played and what they did,” Judge said. “And then to find out that it wasn't earned, they cheated -- that didn't sit well with me, and I just didn't feel like the post really meant the same anymore.”

Judge hit .284/.422/.627 with 52 home runs and 114 RBIs that season, earning unanimous selection for the AL Rookie of the Year Award. Altuve hit .346/.410/.547 with 24 homers, 81 RBIs and 32 stolen bases for Houston. Altuve received 27 first-place votes and three second-place votes for the AL MVP Award to Judge’s two first-place votes, 27 second-place votes and one third-place vote.

The Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger told reporters in Glendale, Ariz., this week that he believes Altuve “stole” that MVP, a sentiment that Judge said that he appreciated.

“With Bellinger, man, I agree with a lot of the things he said,” Judge said. “He went out there and spoke his mind. I really don't want to get into the whole ‘if Altuve stole the MVP or not,’ because that really doesn’t matter; it's over with. I’ve got to make sure next time I don't keep the votes so close -- to go out there and win it outright, so there's no question. He won it, and that's how it is.”

Judge said that he was “pretty mad, pretty upset” to learn that the Yankees’ 2017 postseason could have been impacted by sign-stealing, as well as the careers of numerous other Major League players.

“No matter what anybody says, that impacts the game -- going in there, knowing what's coming,” Judge said. “That's more people on base, you're getting more walks, you're getting more hits. You come to the plate with more opportunities with guys on base, so it definitely impacted the results of that [ALCS]. And they can say that we didn't score runs, we didn't do this and that -- but it affected the game, big-time.”

Judge said that he was not a fan of the punishments levied by Major League Baseball, calling the penalties “pretty weak for a player-driven scheme.”

Asked what he would have liked to see happen instead, Judge replied, “You’re asking the wrong guy. I really don't know. When it comes down to a player-driven scheme, I feel like the players involved need to be punished. I think [Cubs pitcher Yu] Darvish was the one that said if you're playing in the Olympics, you win a gold medal and you find out you cheated, you don't get to keep that medal.”

While MLB decided against stripping the Astros of the 2017 World Series title, Judge made it clear that he no longer views that championship in the same light.

“I just don't think it holds any value with me,” Judge said. “You cheated and you didn't earn it.”