ORLANDO, Fla. -- Aaron Judge has already earned unanimous selection as the winner of the American League's Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award, and though he won't run the table in voting for the AL's Most Valuable Player Award, there is a solid chance he will become just the
ORLANDO, Fla. -- Aaron Judge has already earned unanimous selection as the winner of the American League's Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award, and though he won't run the table in voting for the AL's Most Valuable Player Award, there is a solid chance he will become just the third player in history to bring home both honors in a single season.
The MVP is widely viewed as a two-man battle between Judge and Houston's Jose Altuve. Indians infielder Jose Ramirez is also a finalist in the voting by the Baseball Writers' Association of America, with the winner unveiled in a 6 p.m. ET special on MLB Network on Thursday night.
The Astros second baseman enjoyed the more consistent year from wire to wire, but Judge's prodigious power regularly dropped jaws during his 52-homer campaign. During the American League Championship Series, even Altuve said that he'd probably cast his MVP vote for Judge.
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"Because he hit a lot of homers, a lot of RBIs, he got on base a lot and I like the way he plays," Altuve said. "If I was a GM, I want him on my team because he plays the right way and he's very humble. … And maybe in another life, I'd want to be Aaron Judge and hit all those homers."
Judge is aiming to become the first Yankees MVP since Alex Rodriguez (2007), while looking to join Fred Lynn (1975) and Ichiro Suzuki (2001) in bringing home the MVP and Rookie of the Year in the same season.
In 155 games, Judge compiled a .284/.422/.627 slash line while leading the AL in homers, runs scored (128) and walks (127). While Judge also led the Majors with 208 strikeouts, he helped the Yankees finish one win shy of the World Series in what was widely expected to be a rebuilding year in the Bronx.
Though Altuve led the Majors with a .346 batting average and paced the AL with 204 hits, Judge had a leg up on Altuve in RBIs (114 to 81), on-base percentage (.422 to .410), slugging percentage (.627 to .547) and OPS+ (171 to 164). Altuve posted an 8.3 WAR, just ahead of Judge's 8.1 WAR.
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"You know, I'm still sitting back trying to think about [how] it all happened this first year," Judge said. "From battling in Spring Training to the highs and lows throughout the season, to the playoff run we had, coming up short. It's what you dream about. I wouldn't change a thing, the ups and downs, how things happened this year. It all molds you into who you are now. It was an incredible year."
Since 2003, five of the eight players who led or tied for their league lead in both home runs and runs scored won the MVP Award, with the other three finishing second. Over the same span, five of the seven players who recorded at least 120 runs, 45 homers and 100 RBIs in a season were named MVP.
The Yankees went 31-14 when Judge homered, and 58-27 when Judge scored a run. He is one of three players age 25 or younger, with at least 125 runs and 125 walks in a season. The others were Babe Ruth (1920, age 25) and Ted Williams (1941 and '42, ages 22 and 23).
"I'm biased. That's my guy," Carsten Sabathia said in September. "I think he deserves it. We wouldn't be in this position without him. I think that's the definition of an MVP."
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Despite a six-week summer swoon that saw Judge strike out in a Major League record 37 consecutive games, Judge bounced back to make September his strongest month, cracking 15 homers and ending the year on a career-long 13-game hitting streak before enjoying a postseason in which Yankee Stadium rocked like it was the late 1990s.
"It's an exciting time right now to wear pinstripes," Judge said. "Just the chemistry, I could kind of see in the Minor Leagues and in Spring Training this year that there was something different about this Yankees team."
Bryan Hoch has covered the Yankees for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @bryanhoch and on Facebook.