The Reason Yankees’ Aaron Judge’s Stats Are Declining In 2018

New York Yankees, Aaron Judge

Aaron Judge is having another amazing season for the league leading New York Yankees. He is currently tied for 4th in MLB with 20 home runs and tied for 5th in RBI’s with 52. He is currently on pace for 43 home runs, 111 RBI’s, 117 walks with a .277 average. That’s a pretty impressive stat line and is similar to the one he put up in 2017 as the chart below indicates.

Yearly Breakdown

Stat 2017 2018 (Projected)
Home Runs 52 44
RBI’s 114 111
Walks 127 117
Strikeouts 208 220
Average .284 .277

 



Based off of projections, Judge will take slight dips in production in regards to RBI’s, walks, average and strike outs. The most notable dip in production for Judge would be home runs. He is currently on pace to hit 8 less which may not seem that drastic of a drop until you dive deeper into the numbers.

In 2017, Aaron Judge averaged a home run every 9.6 at bats (which included his deep slump from mid July to early September). This season he is averaging a home run every 7.2 at bats. He is also on pace for 51 more at bats this season. That means, if you were to extrapolate his 2017 numbers with the projected at bats for the 2018 season, his 2017 home run total would jump from 52 to 57. Theoretically, you are looking at a difference of 13 home runs based off of these numbers.

Why the Drop?

Nobody is complaining about a projection of 44 home runs but why is there a drop in production for Judge? This had me dive into baseball analytics and look into stats such as exit velocity and launch angle.

Here is a quick review of what each term means:

Exit Velocity measures the speed of the baseball as it comes off the bat, immediately after a batter makes contact. Essentially, how hard you hit the ball.

Launch Angle represents the vertical angle at which the ball leaves a player’s bat after being struck.

The following chart compares Aaron Judges 2017 season to his 2018 season.

Exit Velocity and Launch Angle

Year Exit Velocity Launch Angle
2017 94.9 mph 15.8 degrees
2018 95.9 mph 11.3 degrees

 

As we can see from the chart, Judge’s exit velocity has gone up from 2017 to 2018 which means he still hits the ball extremely hard, extremely often. He is currently tied for 1st in the major leagues in regards of exit velocity with Joey Gallo of the Texas Rangers. The fact that Aaron Judge is hitting the ball harder than last year is a great sign.

The launch angle is where we see the major decrease. In 2017 his average launch angle was at an impressive 15.8 degrees and has dropped this year to 11.3. So what does that really mean? In order to make sense of of we will compare Aaron Judge’s launch angle to the other Major league home run leaders.

Player Comparison

Name Average Launch Angle Exit Velocity Home Runs Average Strikeouts
Aaron Judge 11.3 96.5 20 .277 103
Mike Trout 16.8 92.5 23 .325 68
J.D. Martinez 8.6 94.7 23 .325 76
Nelson Cruz 13.4 95.7 20 .270 52
Joey Gallo 22.6 96.5 18 .191 111

 

As you can tell from the chart is that there is a wide range in regards to launch angles and these 5 prolific home run hitters. J.D. Martinez’s launch angle is only 8.6 and Joey Gallo’s is as high as 22.6. In comparison, the MLB average is 10.8. The one constant among these home run hitters is the exit velocity. All five are close to the highest in the league. The league average for exit velocity is 87.3.

Conclusion:

Although Aaron Judge’s launch angle has dramatically decreased in comparison to last year I do not see cause for concern. He is not currently on pace for the 52 home runs he hit the year prior but one hot month (last September he hit 15 home runs) will get him there. I believe he will finish right around where he ended up last year and be in the MVP running once again.

 

So why the current dip in home runs? It’s rather simple, it’s baseball.

 

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