Everyone knows that the New York Yankee’s slugger Aaron Judge is a baseball star. The question is could he be this season Yankee MVP or even the American League MVP? The answer is yes; he could be. If that’s all you want to know, then we are done here. For Aaron Judge followers, you may want to know more about why that could become a reality.
First, let’s take a look at his five-year career. When Judge was 23 in 2016, he batted .179 in only 27 games with 4 home runs. In 2017 the still young man burst onto the scene and showed the kind of MVP he could be. He was a Silver Slugger, an All-Star, and came in second in the MVP voting. He also won the All-Star home run derby. He had 52 home runs; one of the home runs had a measured exit velocity of 119.4 miles per hour, the fastest exit velocity for a home run measured by Statcast since it was adopted in 2015. You get the point he was a bonafide baseball star of Mickey Mantle or Roger Maris’s stature. The hype was so high the Yankees built the Judge’s Chamber, a place in Yankees Stadium devoted to the Judge’s jury.
After the 2017 season, the New York Yankees knew that they had the next big baseball star on their hands. But since then Judge has had injury issues. Affecting his playing time and stats. I will not go into all of those issues, but most were back luck or caused by his hulking size. If you have ever stood near Judge, you know he is a monster of a man. He is six foot seven inches tall and has nearly 300 pounds of muscle. From the looks of him, he doesn’t have an ounce of fat on his body.
We know Judge has the power and talent; his success all revolves around his ability to stay healthy. Here’s a good example. Last season Judge being comparatively healthy to start the season, mostly recovered from a lingering fractured rib from 2019, Judge hit 9 home runs in his first eighteen games. Then he was injured with a right calf strain. He was off the field for just over two weeks, but he never got his timing back during the short coronavirus season. By the time the postseason came along, he was again healthy. He hit 3 home runs in 7 postseason games.
Fast forward to the 2021 spring training. Just for the first time in several years, he is entirely healthy, nothing lingering from previous seasons. He was able to complete all of his offseason workouts without complications. For the first time since 2017, he is 100% ready to have an All-Star season. Again the talent is surely there; it all depends on him not injuring himself. He has worked with Eric Cressey on ways to stay healthy.
Judge strikes out a lot, but that is common with home run hitters, like Giancarlo Stanton or Mike Trout. Judge this year will also have to work with a new, slightly deadened baseball. For players that almost get home runs, that may be devastated because it could shorten drives by a couple of feet. This likely won’t be an issue for Judge as most of his home runs are towering blasts and well into the seats.
Since arriving on the scene in 2016, he has hit 45 home runs per 162 games and 120 times crossing home plate. A batting average of .272 and a WAR of 7.5 per 650 plate appearances, and a home run every 12.75 plate appearances.
If Judge can healthy throughout a full season with some days off thrown in, he is fully capable of hitting 45 home runs and a .400 on-base percentage and can be excellent with his defense, which is expected; he can surely lead the New York Yankees and be their MVP. The question of whether he can be baseball’s top man is another question to be answered. There is a lot of competition out there, and anyone one of those players could have a banner year. Let’s hope that player is Aaron Judge.