New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone offered his unofficial early vote for 2023 American League Most Valuable Player on Tuesday night.
“Those were not good-looking odds,” Boone said about what slugger Aaron Judge faced in the bottom of the ninth inning of Tuesday’s come-from-behind win over the Baltimore Orioles, as shared by Bob Klapisch of NJ Advance Media. “But, you know, (Judge) is the best player in the world right now, and he continues to show you why all the time.”
Judge was down in the count 0-2 against fire-balling relief pitcher Felix Bautista when the reigning AL MVP crushed a game-tying home run to the delight of the Yankee Stadium faithful.
Rookie shortstop Anthony Volpe delivered a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to help the surging Yankees improve to 30-20 on the season.
Boone’s “best player in the world” comment served as yet another reminder that AL MVP discussions could generate headlines throughout this summer. It was learned in February that Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani “wasn’t happy” he didn’t repeat as MVP last year even though Judge set a new AL single-season record of 62 home runs.
Ohtani is again producing All-Star numbers at the plate and on the bump, and the 28-year-old will enter Memorial Day as the overwhelming betting favorite to earn MVP honors later this year. As of Wednesday afternoon, OddsChecker listed Ohtani at -125 odds to win the award, while Judge was a distant second at +1000.
However, Judge’s “value” to the Yankees can’t be disputed in the closing days of May. Since he returned from a right hip strain on May 9, the Bronx Bombers have gone 10-3 when he’s been in the lineup. Per ESPN stats, Judge began Wednesday leading all of MLB with a 1.052 OPS, and he was tied for third among all players with 14 home runs.
The Yankees ended Tuesday’s action five games out of first place in the AL East standings, while Ohtani’s Angels trailed the first-place Texas Rangers by four games in the AL West. Fair or not, Ohtani may finish behind Judge in MVP voting for the second-consecutive fall if the Angels fail to end a postseason drought that began after the 2014 season and the Yankees return to the playoffs.