HOUSTON, TEXAS - APRIL 08: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees and Jose Altuve #27 of the Houston Astros during a break in play in the seventh inning at Minute Maid Park on April 08, 2019 in Houston, Texas.
(Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge explains why he deleted a 2017 tweet that congratulated José Altuve on winning the league MVP.

In October, the Houston Astros seemed to be a regular old ballclub playing for their second World Series title in three years. Now just a few months later, they’re arguably the most hated team in all of sports. MLB held an investigation this offseason and found the Astros guilty of sign-stealing in both 2017 and 2018.

During that former campaign — one in which Houston hoisted the World Series trophy — second baseman José Altuve put together an MVP season. In the race for the award, he ultimately beat out New York Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge, who smacked 52 home runs as a rookie that year. Judge sent a congratulatory tweet directed toward Altuve after he was chosen for the honor.

The tweet has since been deleted though, and the Bombers slugger is now explaining why.

“I took it down right when the story broke out. Right when [former Astros pitcher] Mike Fiers came out and talked with [Ken Rosenthal and Evan Drellich of] The Athletic and stated that this is what was going on in ’17,” Judge told reporters after admitting he did indeed delete the tweet. “Once I heard that I was sick to my stomach.

“I had a lot of respect for those guys and what they did and especially what they did for the city of Houston…and to find out it wasn’t earned…they cheated, and that didn’t sit well with me. I just didn’t feel like the post really meant the same anymore.”

Judge’s 2017 home run total, at the time, set a new MLB rookie record. Pete Alonso of the New York Mets surpassed that mark in 2019, hitting 53 home runs.

Altuve, on the other hand, recorded an American League-leading 204 hits and a major league-leading .346 batting average in ’17. But, his AL MVP is just another accomplishment that could forever be marked with an asterisk next to it.

Ryan Honey is a staff writer and host of the Wide Right Podcast.