MVP Rankings: Judge, Goldschmidt continue offensive brilliance
Welcome to the fourth edition of theScore's 2022 Most Valuable Player rankings, where we pick the top players from each league. Let's look at who's strengthening their case as the season approaches the stretch run.
5. Rafael Devers, Red Sox
The Red Sox's dreadful 8-19 record in July may have dented their playoff aspirations, but Devers remains one of the few consistent bright lights in Beantown. He sits top five in the AL in WAR and wRC+ while cutting his strikeout rate below 20% for just the second time in his career. Despite defensive concerns with Devers and questions about how long he'll be able to stay at third base, it'd be prudent for the Red Sox to find a way to come to terms with their homegrown star and keep him in Boston for the long haul.
4. Jose Ramirez, Guardians
Ramirez is authoring another truly marvelous season, and as is often the case, very few are sitting up and noticing his brilliance. The talented switch-hitter sits second in the Junior Circuit in RBIs and could be in line for the third 30-plus home run, 20-plus stolen base season of his career. Ramirez surprised many by signing a below-market extension to remain in Cleveland. However, it's crystal clear that he's very comfortable with the Guardians and will likely be a major catalyst if they want to track down the Twins in the AL Central.
3. Yordan Alvarez, Astros
Critics will point to Alvarez's lack of defensive value as a flaw in his game and a reason he can't be seriously considered for MVP. While he'll never be in the Gold Glove conversation, Alvarez has been adequate in left field for the Astros this season. The slugger's offensive dominance is the reason he's firmly in the MVP conversation. Alvarez ranks second in MLB in wRC+ while sitting inside the top five in the AL in home runs, RBIs, and OPS. It's hard to argue that there's a more complete and fearsome offensive force in baseball right now than Alvarez.
2. Shohei Ohtani, Angels
Ohtani remained with the Angels despite some feverish trade speculation leading up to the deadline. Despite another lost season in Orange County, Ohtani continues to marvel and defy what many thought one player could do on a field in the modern era. It wouldn't be out of line to give Ohtani the award any time he puts together a season in which he's able to have success at the plate and on the mound. To sit inside the top 20 in the AL in home runs, OPS, and wRC+, while also putting up a 2.83 ERA and 13.03 K/9 is, in a word, stupefying. Despite a legitimate claim to another MVP, it feels like Ohtani is fighting a Goliath in New York.
1. Aaron Judge, Yankees
The Yankees have fallen off their blistering pace as a team, but Judge continues to torch opposing pitchers. He went deep 13 times in July and could threaten Roger Maris' single-season franchise record of 61 home runs. The pending free agent is putting together one of the great walk-year campaigns in recent memory. Judge leads baseball in home runs, RBIs, and WAR. The slugger has also shown a flare for the dramatic in 2022 with three walk-off home runs. It remains difficult to see Judge wearing anything other than pinstripes in the future, but this incredible performance might entice another club to pony up enough to lure him away from the bright lights of New York City.
5. Nolan Arenado, Cardinals
After a somewhat underwhelming first season with the Cardinals in 2021, Arenado is in fine form this campaign. The talented third baseman leads the NL in WAR and continues to be an extremely difficult at-bat for opposing pitchers to navigate. Arenado continues to be incredible defensively, ranking first among all third basemen in outs above average and runs prevented. The 31-year-old posted an OPS north of 1.000 in July and is off to a torrid start to August, helping St. Louis overtake the Brewers for the top spot in the NL Central.
4. Francisco Lindor, Mets
Lindor's second season with the Mets is what fans expected when he landed in Queens after a trade and gigantic contract extension. The energetic shortstop struggled in May and June but has come alive since the beginning of July. Lindor slashed .320/.393/.540 with five home runs and 14 RBIs, helping the Mets to a 17-8 mark in July. In addition to finding his stroke at the plate, Lindor continues to showcase his strong defensive skills. The 28-year-old ranks inside the top 10 among all shortstops in outs above average, runs prevented, and defensive WAR, per FanGraphs.
3. Manny Machado, Padres
Machado has been a mainstay in these rankings all season. With the addition of Juan Soto in a blockbuster trade and the impending return of Fernando Tatis Jr., the Padres can rival the Dodgers in star power. After a blistering first two months of the season, Machado's numbers at the plate have dipped since the beginning of June. After posting an .839 OPS that month, Machado cratered to a .694 OPS in 94 July at-bats. The 30-year-old suffered an ankle injury toward the end of June, which could explain some of his struggles. With Soto and Tatis surrounding him in the lineup, Machado could be in store for a monstrous finish to the season.
2. Freddie Freeman, Dodgers
Freeman put an emotional return to Atlanta at the end of June in his rearview mirror and posted a transcendent month of July at the plate. The 32-year-old collected 38 hits with a .388 average, six home runs, and struck out just eight times in 98 July at-bats. The Dodgers are fortunate Freeman, Mookie Betts, and Trea Turner are all producing at the same time atop their potent lineup. Freeman sits top five in the NL in average, wRC+, and WAR. He owns a lifetime .916 OPS in the playoffs and appears poised to author some memorable moments in Dodgers postseason lore.
1. Paul Goldschmidt, Cardinals
Goldschmidt is showing no signs of slowing down this season as he continues to destroy opposing pitching. The 34-year-old leads the Senior Circut in wRC+ by a wide margin and owns the highest OPS of his 12-year career. Goldschmidt reached the All-Star Game for the first time since 2018 and is quieting any rumblings that his best days are behind him with arguably his best season.