We’re just hours away from finding out if Yankees slugger Aaron Judge and his historic season will be punctuated with an American League MVP Award. Considering he broke the AL single-season home run record, led the Junior Circuit with 131 RBI, and nearly won a triple crown, it should only be a formality.
This is no offense to Shohei Ohtani, who had a ridiculous season in his own right. But it just feels like this is Judge’s award to lose. With that in mind, a fair question to ask is: Which other Yankees players have taken home an MVP Award?
It’s happened 22 times in New York’s history, with six players earning these honors on multiple occasions. Here’s the full list of dudes who have done it:
- Babe Ruth: 1923
- Lou Gehrig: 1927, 1936
- Joe DiMaggio: 1939, 1941, 1947
- Joe Gordon: 1942
- Spud Chandler: 1943
- Phil Rizzuto: 1950
- Yogi Berra: 1951, 1954, 1955
- Mickey Mantle: 1956, 1957, 1962
- Roger Maris: 1960, 1961
- Elston Howard: 1963
- Thurman Munson: 1976
- Don Mattingly: 1985
- Alex Rodriguez: 2005, 2007
The majority of this work came between 1939 and 1963. During that 24-year span, the Yankees produced 15 (!) MVP Award winners. That’s just insanity. Things have obviously slowed down considerably since then. Between Munson, Mattingly, and A-Rod, New York has produced just four MVP seasons since 1976.
If Judge comes out victorious on Thursday evening, it will break a 15-year MVP Award drought for the Yankees. That would end the second-longest cold streak in franchise history, with the 20 years between Mattingly and A-Rod’s first win being the longest.
Judge knows a thing or two about breaking long Award droughts for the Yankees. His Rookie of the Year season of 2017 was the first in franchise history since Derek Jeter’s 1996 performance. That 21-year span was the longest New York had gone without the honor since Gil McDougald won the first one for the Yankees in 1951.
But if we look at players who have won both a ROY and MVP as a Yankee, a win on Thursday for Judge makes him and Munson (1970) the only players to do it.
Of course, winning this honor wouldn’t be the first piece of hardware for the slugging outfielder this winter. He’s already taken home his third career Silver Slugger Award and the Hank Aaron Award. With an MVP, Judge would join A-Rod as the only players in Yankees history to capture all three in one season.
There’s a lot at stake for Judge regarding Thursday’s announcement. Winning the award further validates just how historic his 2022 campaign was. It may also give him another boost in contract negotiations. It’s not like he needed any more leverage, but I’m sure he and his reps will take it.