Over the years, baseball has given us some incredible MVP races, including the Mantle-Maris Home Run chase of 1961 and the Season that Saved Baseball, the 1998 Sosa-McGwire slugfest. This season, we’re lucky to have one that may end up surpassing anything previous: Aaron Judge vs. Avisail Garcia. OK, maybe I’m hyping this up as a Sox fan with nothing else to talk about this season besides Buehrle Day and the Giolito 7 Inning No Hitter. But with the Yankees in town this week, it got me thinking about this race that no one would have seen coming about 3 months ago.
If you look at the basic, old world stats, it’s easy to crown Aaron Judge as the overwhelming favorite in the MVP race thus far:
Garcia: .325/.365/.523, 11 HR’s, 51 RBI’s (73 games/283 ABs)
Judge: .330/.444/.693, 26 HR’s, 59 RBI’s (72 games/261 ABs)
Sure, every one of the above stats favors Judge (by quite a bit), but luckily this race is happening in 2017 so we have access to REAL NEWS stats. Looking at some advanced analytics courtesy of Fangraphs, we can dig a little bit deeper.
Both players are near the league lead in Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP), with Judge leading the MLB at .420 and Avi close behind in third at .391. Expect some regression from both players over the rest of the season from these ridiculous numbers, but some regression from Judge, coupled with his massive K rate (29.3% compared to 21.6% from Garcia), this should favor Avi down the stretch. Additionally, expect Judge to hit some semblance of a rookie slump at some point. No statistical basis besides the above, but it’s likely gonna happen. Need some precedent? See Jose Abreu’s 2014 rookie season where he had 29 HR’s and 73 RBI’s at the All Star Break and finished with 36 and 107, respectively. Not to say Judge is gonna fall to zero, but this start is unsustainable.
I’m not going to go into every stat available, as they’re all online and most favor Judge and I’m stumping for Avi here (hey, at least I’m honest). However, looking at the Clutch stat, something unexpected happens:
Checkmate. You saw it here first, Aaron Judge is no where near the clutch hitter Avi is. Yes, this is a real stat (you can read about it here if your heart desires). With the above one statistic as proof, you can clearly see Avi is destined to string together clutch hit after clutch hit over the course of the season to the MVP, leading the Sox to the postseason for the first time since 2008. Meanwhile, Judge is likely going to keep struggling in the clutch, padding some empty stats. What leads to this discrepancy in clutch hitting? Probably Avi’s massive lead in the AL in a little thing called The Will to Win (TWTW for those keeping score at home) and supreme five tool skills. Right Hawk?
OK fine, Aaron Judge is probably going to win the MVP and Avi is going to come way back down to earth as the Sox lose 95-100 games. But in a trying season such as this, let a diehard Sox fan enjoy four words that are likely going to be announced later this week that no one could have ever predicted: Avi Garcia, All Star.