Mandel’s Musings: New York Yankees, Led By Aaron Judge, Appear to Have a Bright Future

Published on: 29th June, 2017


aaron_judge swings bat
Judge got the Yankees started with a home run  | read this item

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It is still early in this 2017 baseball season but one thing keeps occurring in major league ballparks around the country. Players from other teams keep asking the same questions of beat reporters covering the New York Yankees:

What’s the deal with the Yankees’ young star, Aaron Judge? Is he for real?

It’s difficult to answer such questions when the 25-year old rookie, Judge, has only played in 74 games this season. He is still a kid who hasn’t hit a real slump yet, or adversity of any kind. But, from what we’ve seen so far, the 6’7″, 280 pound Paul Bunyan of baseball appears to be acquitting himself quite well as a star player in New York, the nation’s biggest market, for the Yankees, the world’s most famous sports franchise. 


Judge is the biggest story in baseball, so far


Playing under the bright lights of New York is not the same as playing in a more relaxed atmosphere, like St. Louis or Anaheim. Every little thing the kid says or does is chronicled by dozens of reporters who watch him like hawks, every day.  Nonetheless, Judge has so far, kept his focus and perspective. More importantly, under the intense spotlight, he has performed at Ruthian levels, as in Babe Ruth, who used to be the Paul Bunyan of baseball in the roaring 1920’s, almost one hundred years ago. 

Judge is currently on top of the league in the Triple Crown categories, leading all players in homers, rbi’s, and batting average. He is also ranked #1 in six additional offensive categories in the American League, a truly amazing feat for any player but, for a rookie, astounding. The categories include runs, walks, on-base %, OPS, Slugging, and WAR (wins above replacement). There is no other player in memory who has dominated the statistical tables in baseball as Aaron Judge has, so far.

Again, it’s early. 

Baseball fans, who love to analyze statistics among current players as well as using stats to compare past players to current ones, are drinking up this kids’ performance so far. One of the popular ways to look at baseball performance is to project how a player’s season will end up if he “stays on the same pace” till season’s end. At this pace, Judge will end up his first year in the big leagues with 58 home runs, 132 runs batted in, 149 runs scored, 190 hits, 113 walks, a slugging % of .702, on-base % of .458, and a batting average of .333. He is SO FAR AHEAD of anyone else in the WAR stat, with 4.8, the next highest, at 3.6, is not even in the same zip code. 

Baseball hasn’t seen this sort of offensive dominance from a player since Jimmy Foxx, Lou Gehrig, and The Babe were swinging their 40 oz. bats. Even Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, and Mickey Mantle, legendary sluggers from the 1950s and 60s, didn’t start out their careers like Aaron Judge has.

But, of course, it’s still early. 

But, the fact is, before we’ve reached the midway point of this season, Judge is the most dominant rookie in the history of the sport. It’s easy to imagine the 25-year old Yankee rightfielder being at the top of league stats for the next decade or so. His plate discipline, something he never demonstrated in the minors, has developed unbelievably fast at the major league level. He takes pitches the other way, with enormous power. For Yankees fans, who know what this means, he is a true Yankee. For those who don’t know what that means, think Mickey Mantle, Derek Jeter or Mariano Rivera. Players who were homegrown, raised in the Yankee system and who play the game with an obvious respect and joy for the sport. and the fans. Think about the pride they took in wearing the Yankees pinstripes and, no other uniform during their entire careers. Judge seems to be cut, literally, from that same pinstriped cloth.


Yanks’ manager, Girardi batted Judge in two-hole last night


The Yankees, with extremely talented and focused young players in their system, seem to be on their way to a new era of success. It’s a long way to September and October, when the games become exponentially pressured for a team in a pennant race but more so, for a New York City team in a pennant race. Expectations are enormous and many players shrink under those circumstances. We will see how these young Yankees, currently in first place in the American League East division, and their Bunyanesque rookie, Aaron Judge can handle the pressure.

Yes, it’s still early but in baseball, the season has a way of getting late pretty quickly.  

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