MVP summit: Goldy still giddy about offseason sessions with Judge

July 2nd, 2023

ST. LOUIS -- Cardinals superstar first baseman hit .317 with 35 home runs and 115 RBIs to win the first Most Valuable Player award of his career in 2022.

One of the most memorable parts of winning the game’s grandest individual award for Goldschmidt? Winning the NL award in the same season when Yankees slugger Aaron Judge set the American League record for home runs with 62 while also winning his league’s MVP award.

The mild-mannered, even-tempered Goldschmidt rarely gets excited about much, but he jumped at the chance to hit and lunch with Judge over the offseason while both were living in Florida. Goldschmidt happily made the three-hour drive from Jupiter, Fla., to Tampa to spend the day with Judge, he said. Both won MVP awards in their respective leagues, but to hear Goldschmidt tell it, he was like an excitable kid learning from Judge and simply happy to be in the company of greatness.

“I’m just a big fan of his, and he's one of the best hitters on the planet, so I was wanting to learn from him,” said Goldschmidt, whose Cardinals split a doubleheader with the Yankees on Saturday -- winning 11-4 in the opener and losing 6-2 in the nightcap. “Judge is one of the best people around, too, because everyone that's ever played with him talks so highly about him.

“I have a lot of respect for him, and he’s one of my favorite players,” added Goldschmidt, who hit a three-run home run in Saturday’s opening win and registered two singles in the nightcap. “Him winning the MVP, I think we all knew he was going to do that. It’s cool that I'll be linked with him winning that [in 2022]. It made winning the MVP the same year as Judge even cooler from my perspective.”

The showdown between the two reigning MVP winners was spoiled this weekend with Judge still on the injured list with a right great toe sprain. Without the 6-foot-7, 282-pound Judge, the Yankees' lineup lost much of its offensive swagger the past month. Even after routing the A’s, the Yankees averaged just 3.8 runs per game in June -- 29th in MLB.

All-Star acquaintances prior to last offseason, Goldschmidt and Judge talked extensively for the first time at the awards banquet in New York, where they were presented their respective MVP awards. It was then that they first discussed meeting up one day over the winter to talk hitting and working out together. That idea might have gone nowhere had the ever-persistent Goldschmidt not messaged Judge again and again last January.

Said Goldschmidt: “I kind of bugged him until he let me come over to Tampa and hit with him for a day. It was great.”

When the two reigning MVPs got together, they smashed baseballs in the batting cage for a couple of hours and talked about their approaches against different pitchers. They also discussed their strategies at the plate with two strikes because Judge was looking to cut down on the 175 strikeouts that he racked up in 2022. On the other hand, Judge also led baseball in 2022 in two-strike home runs (21), while Goldschmidt ranked third with 14 such long balls. This season, Judge has nine two-strike homers and Goldschmidt has eight.

Specifically, Judge picked Goldschmidt’s brain about his no-stride approach at the plate. Often when he’s behind in counts, Goldschmidt prefers to limit his movements in the box and focuses on trying to drive the ball the other way. Judge worked with Goldschmidt on using a no-stride approach -- something he experimented with early in the season before ditching the tactic.

“In the batting cage, during the offseason, it was feeling good,” Judge told’s Bryan Hoch and other media outlets earlier this season. “But when you’re facing pitchers and situations, things change a little bit. So, I think I’m going to stay with what I have.”

That made perfect sense to Goldschmidt, who said he has texted with Judge several times throughout this season to discuss hitting and life outside of baseball. In Goldschmidt’s eyes, Judge is so spectacularly talented that he would be wise to stick with what he was doing last season while smashing 62 homers.

“He’s a total five-tool player, and he’s played center field and right field and some of the plays he’s made are unbelievable,” Goldschmidt raved. “He almost won the Triple Crown and the batting title last season. It was close to being the best offensive season in the history of the game. He has all the things you want a player to be, and you want kids to try and emulate.”