WOW. Aaron Judge is an MVP. I was fairly confident he would win as the season went on, and then he eventually sealed the deal with the 62 bombs. But to be able to FINALLY say that Aaron Judge is the American League MVP is so cool.
Obviously with everything that has happened with the Yankees in recent years, not living up to “Yankees” standards of a World Series, and not even being able to make it there has been brutal. The early-mid 2010s were very blah teams, all the core franchise players ending their careers and didn’t have much success in the postseason at all. They lacked that star franchise player that I grew up with in Jeter, Mariano, A-Rod, etc. I feel like it was all washed up, very random veterans leading the Yankees throughout that time period. But then 2017 came along and we got one.
Aaron Judge puts up one of the best rookie seasons in MLB history, 52 homers which was a rookie record until Alonso broke it a few years later. But anyways Judge’s season lit a spark under this team and gave it life again. Of course they had a great year in 2017 and whatever we know how it ended. But that Yankees team wasn’t supposed to be that good. One win away from a World Series appearance was unbelievable for that group and made fans think, alright maybe we have something here. Aaron Judge instantly became the face of the team that season and took over that leadership role as the years went on. The way he handled himself with the fans, media and just on the field just fit everything it meant to be a Yankee.
For the next few years Judge continued to be that guy, growing into the unofficial captain of the team. On and off the field the way Aaron Judge has carried himself the past few years, he’s gotten many comparisons to how Jeter would be during his time in the Bronx. For someone to seriously be comparing you to Derek Jeter, you gotta be doing something right.
Fast forward to 2022. Aaron Judge’s final session before he heads to free agency. He makes it very clear before the season starts, that he will not negotiate during the season, he will only negotiate prior to the season or if they don’t get a deal done wait until the off-season when he has the chance to talk to all the teams. Naturally, they don’t get a deal done before the season. So we go into the 2022 season knowing Aaron Judge will test free agency in the off-season. Holy shit was this a roller coaster. The first half of the season genuinely might’ve been the most fun I’ve ever had as a fan. They had one of the best starts in franchise history, they looked unstoppable, and Aaron Judge was the best baseball player on Earth at the time.
Then the 2nd half happened and it went pretty downhill. You could say the Yankees came back down to Earth (some would say crashed back down to Earth). And by the Yankees, I mean everyone on the Yankees BESIDES Aaron Judge. This guy hasn’t stopped the entire season, at one point I was convinced he was going after Bonds’ record. I’m not here to write out Judge’s entire season because you know how it turned out, but when Judge hit number 62 I was reflecting on how much this season meant to me as a Yankees fan. I was dialed into every single game, even when they were on their losing streak, and a big part of that was because of #99. From not being able to get a contract done to the team success and then team regression and Judge making history it was such an incredible, emotional season as a Yankees fan. Yes it was a shitty ending where once again the Yankees fail to win a World Series. But you have to appreciate how amazing this season was as a fan perspective.
I know I can say in confidence that Aaron Judge’s 2022 season was the best single season performance in my lifetime. Given I’m only 22 years old, but being a part of this journey watching all of these games is something I truly will never forget.
As I’m writing this I feel good about Judge’s chances of returning to the Yankees. What he’s done for this franchise having 2 historical seasons since 2017 has been remarkable to watch and I do believe he deserves that captain title if/when the Yankees sign him long term this off-season.
Aaron Judge finally got his MVP title that he should’ve received in ‘17. But hey, he earned it once again and got his this year. This MVP season is something myself, and many other Yankee fans will never forget and appreciate forever. Now go hand him a blank check and don’t let him leave the New York Yankees.
Photo credit: USA Today Sports