MLB MVP Award Winners 2022

Just like when Aaron Judge gets his hands on one, there wasn’t much doubt about the outcome of this year’s American League Most Valuable Player voting. The real intrigue took place in the Senior Circuit, where co-Cardinals contenders Paul Goldschmidt and Nolan Arenado and Padres third baseman Manny Machado all built a strong case as the standout star of the National League.

Ultimately, it is Goldschmidt who is behind Judge as MVP for 2022 after the Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed the results on MLB Network Thursday night. Both were winners of the award for the first time.

“I think it was my best season,” Goldschmidt said Thursday on MLB Network. “Who knows what that means? Other guys had great years too.

“I had a year or two in Arizona that were really good, but even last year — 2021 with St. Louis — I thought that could have been my best year, even if those numbers weren’t as good as before,” Goldschmidt added up to it.

Judge, meanwhile, officially has the game’s loftiest individual honor to add to his free-agent profile. The big man who made a big gamble on himself by turning down the Yankees’ $213.5 million renewal offer at the start of the year finished with an all-ages season, breaking Roger Maris’ single-season AL home run record broke with 62 to finish just five batting average points away from the Triple Crown.

“Congratulations to Aaron on one of the best seasons in the history of our sport,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said in a statement from the team. “I am grateful to have witnessed it up close and to share in his magical year, especially given the great respect I have for him as a player and as a person. I hope he can reflect on his extraordinary individual achievements and the impact which he had on his teammates every day and can use as fuel for continued excellence in years to come.

While Judge’s juxtaposition against reigning AL MVP and two-way unicorn Shohei Ohtani inspired plenty of healthy discussion in the second half of the season, it wasn’t surprising that he held the AL ballot. Judge received 28 of 30 first place votes and 410 voting points to Ohtani’s two first place votes and 280 points. Astroslugger Yordan Alvarez finished third (232 points).

Only the most outrageous output could bring down Ohtani, who again put together an overwhelming campaign that saw both his All-Star caliber offensive and pitching performances. And Judge’s season, in which he hit 16 more home runs than anyone else in the MLB, certainly qualified. As a result, Judge’s victory marks the 21st time (and the first time since Alex Rodriguez in 2007) that a Yankees player has been honored as MVP – the most of any team.

The team with the second most MVPs? That would be the Cardinals, who now have their 18th all-time in Goldschmidt.

It was a closer vote in NL. Goldschmidt received 22 of 30 first place votes for a total of 380 points. Machado (seven votes for first place) finished second with 291 points. Arenado (one first place) finished third with 232 points.

Goldschmidt is the first St. Louis star to be so honored since fellow first baseman Albert Pujols in 2009, and he earned it by having the best season of his career — at 34 years old, no less, making him the ninth oldest turned player to win an MVP. Goldschmidt not only led the NL, but also posted a career-best slugging percentage (.578). He also led the league in OPS (.981) and weighted runs created plus (177) and was critical in the Cards, claiming first place in NL Central.

Of course, Goldschmidt had stiff competition on his own team for the MVP. He defeated Arenado, whose second season with the club saw him hit a .293/.358/.533 slash with 30 homers, while earning his 10th straight Gold Glove at the hot corner. The Cardinals had traded Goldschmidt (pre-2019) and Arenado (pre-2021) in hopes of solidifying the middle of the lineup. In 2022, they both finished as finalists for the MVP, and Arenado’s recent decision not to cancel his contract with the club will ensure they remain cornerstones of the infield next season.

Machado had an equally strong MVP case, leading the NL in FanGraphs’ WAR (7.4) as he beat .298/.366/.531 with 32 homers for a Padres team without Fernando Tatis Jr.

The NL had a large field of potential MVPs that included, in addition to the three eventual finalists, Freddie Freeman and Mookie Betts of the Dodgers, Pete Alonso and Francisco Lindor of the Mets, Austin Riley of the Braves, and others.

In other words, it was a complicated vote.

The judge’s case was much clearer. It wasn’t just that he caught the attention and imagination of the sports world at large by chasing the ghosts of two other pinstripe right fielders – Maris and Babe Ruth. And it wasn’t just that his homer total so far surpassed the norm in a year when the long ball was suppressed league-wide. It was that he almost personally secured the Yankees first place in the AL East by holding onto his absurd run while the rest of the team had a sluggish second half.

All of that combined to give Judge, who was the Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up in the AL in 2017, an obvious path to MVP. Ohtani’s continued maximization of his unique abilities to make him a force in this mood for the foreseeable future. However, this season belonged to Judge.

The six-foot-tall, 600-pound resident of Linden, California, towered over the opposition, figuratively and literally, to become the greatest MVP ever.

Judge led the Majors in home runs, RBIs (131), OPS (1,111), OPS+ (211), total bases (391), and runs scored (133). He didn’t just hit baseballs; he also knew when to let them pass, with a 15.9% running percentage that ranked in the top 1% in MLB and a 22.9% chase percentage that ranked in the 83rd percentile. He knew how to trot around the bases and he knew how to steal them, with 16 swipes. And for a Yankees team that needed a center fielder for much of the year, he handled that demanding defensive position adeptly before sliding right again to finish in the 85th percentile in Outs Above Average.

With this prize out of the way, our full attention now turns to a fascinating free agency. Judge’s MVP is safe and his NL counterpart is known. The only question is where he will play in 2023.

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