As soon as the last of the Yankee legends retired in 2014 (A-Rod doesn't count), New York fans have been looking for a suitable replacement. They marveled at the power and potential they saw from Greg Bird toward the end of the 2015 season and recreated that same hype with Gary Sánchez in the 2016 season. In 2017, they finally got what they were after: A humble slugger that not only oozes potential but is already good enough to be in the AL MVP race. Judge also hit 52 home runs. Aaron Judge is already the face of the franchise, there's no doubt about that.

But is he really what's going to take the Yanks back to the World Series now and in the future?

Group effort

The saying "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" really manifests itself with New York, although the parts aren't too shabby themselves. As a team, they ranked third in both batting average and pitching ERA in the American League. And they wouldn't be the "Bronx Bombers" if they didn't finish first in homers. Even players not known for their power, like Brett Gardner and Didi Gregorius, managed twenty plus home runs. If you take a look at their usual lineup, there isn't a single player that hasn't come through for them big time at some point in 2017. Most recently, it was Masahiro Tanaka's masterful ALDS Game 3 start that spared the yankees from going home early.

Veterans like Matt Holiday and Chase Headley proved themselves with sufficient hitting, after entering the season as serious question marks.

Those two were intended to be placeholders until the new youth wave was complete in New York, which perhaps gave them even greater motivation to perform. Everyone was doing their part, and come July, the Yanks added two more key veterans to bolster their well-rounded squad. Starting pitcher Sonny Grey added serious depth to a staff that desperately needed to give up fewer runs.

Power hitter Todd Frazier was the perfect DH complement to a lineup that thrives off of the long ball. Take away Judge, and this is still a contending team.

All rise... to the occasion

You wouldn't be wrong in thinking Judge's post-All-Star break slump had something to do with the Yankee's mediocre play in July and August. However, this mediocrity began sometime in June, when Judge was still belting balls over 400 feet on the regular.

You would also be right if you think Judge's breakout in September helped his team lock up a playoff spot. It's just that most of the games were runaway win or loss.

I'll use the ALDS series vs. the Cleveland Indians to help facilitate my point. The Yankees are down 0-2, Judge was striking out almost every plate appearance, and the pitching staff admittedly looked done in.

Three games later, with Judge still slumping, they somehow win the series. Gregorius, Bird, Tanaka, and Sabathia are praised like heroes even though they've been doing it all season (except Bird, who's been great after a long DL stint). It's about time they get recognized for their expectation-crushing campaigns, and accept their superstar shortcomings.

To conclude this, I hope you realize that I am a Judge fan myself. I rooted for him as much as the wig-wearing weirdos out in center field, while also applauding Brian Cashman for putting together the best Yankees team since '09.

If Judge continues to improve his consistency issues, he will be a big part of many postseasons down the line.

Baseball is perhaps the least individualistic sport. If you're a Yankees fan, you should be very happy with the "whole."