Somehow, Someway, Aaron Judge is Still in the MVP Conversation

Aaron Judge has been one of the worst players in baseball since the All-Star break. If I were to tell you that before the season, you’d probably assume that he’d been sent back down to the minors at best. Now it’s reality, but instead of calling for his demotion to Triple-A, we’re calling him an MVP candidate. Here are his horrendous second-half numbers:

BA HR RBI OBP SLG AB/SO
2nd half .197 13 30 .359 .430 2.3
162-game pace .197 38 87 .359 .430 2.3

The home run and RBI projections for 162 games are respectable, but we have to keep in mind that a player hitting under the Mendoza line for a full season isn’t going to be seeing the field anywhere near 162 times.

But there are three reasons why, despite the horror-show in the second half, Aaron Judge is still a respectable AL MVP candidate.

The first reason is the most obvious: his first half. Take a look at his first half stats and the 162-game projections:

BA HR RBI OBP SLG AB/SO
2nd half .329 30 66 .448 .691 2.8
162-game pace .329 58 127 .448 .691 2.8

This stat-line is a shoe-in for MVP. It stacks up to even the most memorable seasons in recent memory–2013 Miguel Cabrera, 2001 Barry Bonds, and 2001 Albert Pujols. Judge was so dominant in the first half that, despite his second half, he still has respectable numbers. His current 162-game pace (not that he’ll play 162 games) is a .277 batting average with 50 home runs and 111 RBIs, a totally reasonable stat-line for an MVP.

The second reason why Judge is still in the MVP conversation is because of his competition, or lack thereof. In years past, Miguel Cabrera and Mike Trout would slug their way to the award, with the former usually coming out on top. In 2017, Cabrera is having a down year, and Trout missed significant time. The frontrunner for AL MVP in 2017 is José Altuve. While fantastic in his own right, he’s no Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout. His home run projection is would be lowest for a position player AL MVP since Dustin Pedroia in 2008, and the third lowest for a position player since 1980.

The third reason is because he’s finally getting his groove back. Over the past 7 days, Judge is hitting .333 with 4 home runs and 9 RBIs. If he continues this pace for the final few weeks of the regular season and the Yankees pass the Red Sox in the AL East, it’ll be hard not to at least consider Aaron Judge for AL MVP.

He’s baaaack. At long last, Judge has finally begun to break out of his second-half tailspin, and has the Yanks primed for an AL East push in the final weeks of the season.

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