Aaron Judge's 6-foot, 7-inch frame, 282 pound frame is a clear advantage when it comes to being a power-hitting baseball player.
The Yankees rookie star dwarfs virtually everyone he stands next to on the diamond, and his statistical achievements - beyond his record-setting 50 home runs for a rookie in a single season - thrust him to the conversation for the American League Most Valuable Player Award.
The argument for Judge to be named MVP is certainly valid, but there are at least three other position players with solid cases: Indians Jose Ramirez, Astros Jose Altuve, and Angels Mike Trout.
Some will immediately eliminate Trout based on missed time (games played is actually part of the voting criteria), and that he's not playing for a playoff team (this is not part of the criteria). While I do not agree with the playoff aspect, missing 47 games does dampen the comparison in my view. Is Trout fantastic? Yes. But, we cannot simply extrapolate his current stats and assume he'll have compiled them. We'll never know what might have happened in the games he missed, but we do have complete seasonal data for Altuve, Judge and Ramirez.
As such, Ramirez's season has been spectacular and he has blossomed into one of the better players in the game. But, overall, he falls short of Altuve and Judge on many levels. He leads in only one of the categories above, and I fail to see how he was the league's best player for more than a month.
Altuve might have walked away with the award had it not been for Judge's blazing hot September. Besides the categories Altuve leads over Judge, some voters will credit the Astros' second baseman further for the consistency of his season. Although a closer look shows that Altuve had a tremendous stretch of games himself this season, particularly June (171 wRC+) and July (241 wRC+). He averaged a wRC+ value of 139 over the other four months of the season (more on this later).
Altuve will be considered the better hitter, not just for the batting average, but because of the lack of strikeouts compared with Judge. He has four times the number of stolen bases, but defensive metrics have him slightly above average.
Judge leads Altuve in 10 of the 14 categories covered here. That should be enough, but Judge will be criticized for the downturn from the All-Star break. Truth be told, Judge had one poor month - August (90 wRC+). Even in July, when Judge was significantly off his game, he posted a .847 OPS (115 wRC+).
One step further, where Altuve was a dominating force for two months, Judge has four months of play in which he posted wRC+ values of - 197, 186, 204 and 227 (average of 204). That kind of production is simply exceptional.
Judge not only leads Altuve in many categories, but how about the ones in which he leads the American League? Here are the five categories in which Judge leads the AL: Runs, home runs, RBIs, walks and fWAR.
Meanwhile, Altuve leads the AL in two offensive categories- batting average and hits.
In my opinion, the argument that Judge strikes out too much is insane. Strikeouts are never productive, but when the entirety of the rest of Judge's work points to a player with offensive prowess not replicated around the league, please leave it alone. Were Judge striking out 200 times and hitting .200 with a low OBP, he immediately becomes a non-conversation. However, that is simply not the case.
Judge not only carried the Yankees through the first half, he put the game on his shoulders. Down the stretch, he again has scooped up his club and is dominating pitching. While Judge stands well above his peers in stature, his statistical production in 2017 is also tops in the league and deserving of the league's MVP award.