Yankees’ Aaron Judge, Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt favorites for MVP awards

With an AL-record 62 home runs and a 207 weighted runs created plus, Judge turned in one of the best offensive seasons since Barry Bonds last ran roughshod over major-league pitching.

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Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s 11.4 wins above replacement, as calculated at Fangraphs.com, was the highest in the majors since Barry Bonds’ 11.9 in 2004.

Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s 11.4 wins above replacement, as calculated at Fangraphs.com, was the highest in the majors since Barry Bonds’ 11.9 in 2004.

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With 62 home runs and a 207 weighted runs created plus, the Yankees’ Aaron Judge turned in one of the best offensive seasons since Barry Bonds last ran roughshod over major-league pitching.

By the numbers, Judge merits the American League MVP award over fellow finalists Shohei Ohtani of the Angels and Yordan Alvarez of the Astros.

With MVPs to be announced Thursday, the National League finalists are the Cardinals’ Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado and the Padres’ Manny Machado.

National attention was focused on Judge breaking Roger Maris’ AL record of 61 homers. He flirted with a Triple Crown, also leading the AL with 131 RBI and posting a .311 batting average that was second to Luis Arraez’s .316. He led the majors with a .425 on-base percentage, .686 slugging percentage and 1.111 OPS.

Judge’s 11.4 WAR, as calculated at Fangraphs.com, was the highest in the majors since Bonds’ 11.9 in 2004. The next-highest since 2010 is Mookie Betts’ 10.5 in 2018, with the only others reaching 10 being Mike Trout’s 10.2 in 2013 and 10.1 in 2012 and Buster Posey’s 10.1 in 2012.

Similarly, Judge’s 207 wRC+ is the highest since Bonds’ 233 in 2004. The only seasons to top 200 in the 2000s are four by Bonds, this one by Judge and Juan Soto’s 202 in the COVID-shortened 2020 season.

Judge’s season was one for the ages, but Ohtani will get support for his double-barreled contribution as a pitcher and designated hitter.

At the plate, Ohtani was fourth in the AL with 34 homers, seventh with 95 RBI, fifth with an .879 OPS and seventh with a 142 wRC+. His 3.8 fWAR was limited by DHs’ lack of defensive contributions.

As a pitcher, Ohtani was 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA that was fourth among AL qualifiers. His 5.6 pitching fWAR ranked him third behind Justin Verlander (6.1) and Kevin Gausman (5.7).

Combined, Ohtani’s fWAR was 9.5. In most seasons, that spells M-V-P. But this is Judge’s year.

As for Alvarez, he was terrific with a .306 batting average, 37 homers, 97 RBI and a 1.019 OPS that was second to Judge’s. His 185 wRC+ would be league-leading in many years, and his 6.6 fWAR tied Jose Altuve for second among non-pitchers. He’s a worthy contender with very tough competition.

Goldschmidt was the presumed NL MVP for most of the season, but he had a rugged finish, hitting .245 with a subpar .716 OPS in September and the beginning of October.

The NL OPS leader at .981, Goldschmidt was third with a .317 batting average, fifth with 35 homers and second with 115 RBI. His 177 wRC+ led the NL, easily ahead of Machado (152) and Arenado (151).

Third basemen Machado and Arenado make up ground on defense. Machado’s 7.4 fWAR led the NL, with Arenado (7.3) second and Goldschmidt (7.1) tied for third with Freddie Freeman.

As the best offensive player, Goldschmidt remains the favorite. By the numbers, you could draw any NL finalist’s name out of a hat and come up with a worthy MVP.

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