It was Aaron Judge’s year in Major League Baseball, except where it matters most – the Houston Astros won it all after sweeping Judge’s New York Yankees out of the playoffs. But the big slugger from the Bronx was the brightest star and the main storyline all the way into the offseason. And that’s where we’ll start our MLB 2022 rewind, with a glance toward what paid off for those of you betting online at the sportsbook.
It wasn’t immediate. Judge entered the 14th game of the season – nearly a tenth of the way through the schedule – batting .255 with one home run and two RBIs. There were more than a few grumbles in New York over the Yankees’ right fielder, who was coming off a 39-homer campaign but hadn’t yet duplicated his monstrous 2017 rookie campaign.
If you took Judge to win American League Most Valuable Player at that juncture, chances are you’d see him down the MLB odds sheet a little bit. If you waited awhile to put a wager on him, you might’ve missed the boat. Judge homered twice that day in April and never looked back, setting an American League home run record with 62 and running away with the MVP.
That was only the beginning of the Judge sweepstakes, as the MLB picks sheets then filled with odds as to where he would sign. It seemed as if the San Francisco Giants were an early favorite, but the Yankees re-signed their superstar, coming to terms on a nine-year contract worth $360 million.
The greatest gamble in all of this was Judge’s own. He turned down New York’s preseason extension offer of seven years and $213.5 million and bet on himself to take a career year into free agency. It’s pretty obvious he’s the big winner here.
Scoop on Free Play from the Locker Room
Houston has no Problems
It wasn’t immediate. The Astros entered their 17th game – a tenth of the way through the schedule – at 7-9 and in fourth place in the American League West. Jose Altuve was on the injured list, Yordan Alvarez was batting at .167 and Kyle Tucker was at .169. We also didn’t know at the time that Justin Verlander’s return from Tommy John surgery would yield a Cy Young Award.
If you looked at the MLB lines on that date, the Astros might’ve been down below the Yankees, Los Angeles Dodgers, Atlanta Braves, and probably a few other teams. They were pegged to win 92.5 games on our preseason odds sheet and we wisely took the over on that one, for this team quickly shook off their slow start and became a juggernaut. From that day on, Houston was 99-47, 10 games better than a Yankees team that had set the pace early on.
The Astros were the favorites heading into the postseason so their World Series crown wasn’t a huge shock at that point. However, the ease with which they won it all was notable, posting an 11-2 record against the Seattle Mariners, Yankees, and Philadelphia Phillies. They fended off the one challenge from Philadelphia by riding their dominant pitching staff and winning the final three games by a combined 12-3 margin.
Dodgers Continue to Dodge Glory
The Los Angeles Dodgers will once again be the favorites to take it all next year. The early odds have them at +600, tied with Houston, and you know they’ll add a big-name piece or two if they can this winter.
What remains to be seen, however, is if this current Dodgers era will ever be remembered as a great one. They did win the 2020 World Series, but a lot of haters out there (all of San Francisco and San Diego, for sure) will always keep an asterisk on that one since it took place at the tail end of the COVID-stunted campaign.
Los Angeles has had seasons with 104 wins, 106 wins, 106 wins, and now 111 wins in the past five full years. None of those resulted in a World Series title, with this year’s loss to the San Diego Padres in the NLDS a brutal blow for a team that scored 334 more runs than its opponents during the regular season.
The Padres continue to load up with the signing of Xander Bogaerts and they’ll welcome back Fernando Tatis Jr. next year in what could be a 100-win unit. At +1000 to win the World Series, San Diego is a juicy pick right now. The Dodgers will still be favorites, but how many times will that lead to little more than a division crown?