If you are paying any attention to Major League Baseball you know the future of New York Yankees looks more exciting than it has in years. Fortunately, now that Comcast and the YES Network have put their big boy pants on and came to an agreement, I have Yankee baseball in my home once more. Even though it is about damned time, it could not have come at a better time. if it had not, I would be missing out on something special.
The story of the season thus far has centered around right fielder Aaron Judge. I unabashedly join in the chorus of Bomber fans everywhere singing his praises.
The man is a powerhouse. He stands 6′ 7″ tall and 282 lbs. To give a better perspective, Yankee Magazine tweeted out this photo of him with our shortstop Ronald Torreyes. Standing slightly smaller than the average American male, Torreyes is 5′ 8″ and 151 pounds.
That is a big boy.
Just last night, in the 25th game of the year he hit home runs 11 and 12 of the season and in the process is becoming the best thing that happened to MLB’s Stratcast since its 2015 inception.
I know. I had no idea either. But since it keeps coming up when people talk about him, I felt it was time to learn. Now it’s your turn.
Statcast is a high-speed, high-accuracy, automated tool developed to analyze player movements and athletic abilities.
With respect to hitting, it measures exit velocity, launch angle, vector, hang time, hit distance and projected HR distance. The latter by calculating the distance of projected landing point at ground level on over-the-fence home runs.
One month into the season Judge is at the top of the list. last week he hit a shot that got out of there in a hurry, exiting at 119.4 MPH. In doing so, he sent Mr. Rawlings 435 feet. No one this season has hit one harder.
Further? Yes. Harder? No.
When reviewing Stratcast’s Top 50 hardest hit balls of the season, Judge is responsible for nine of them. NINE! Let’s do quick math: 30 teams. 25-man rosters. In the NL, pitchers can hit. This makes a total of 375 potential NL batters and 240 American League batters who are on active rosters.
Of these 615 men, one is responsible for nine of the top 50 (18%) hardest hit basballs in April. It is the rookie right fielder for the NY Yankees. Three of those nine were home runs that went 435, 448 and 457 feet.
I have been hearing a lot of comparisons to Derek Jeter lately. That initially gave me pause until I learned these comparisons are with respect to Judge’s mannerisms on and off the field. Polite. Respectful. Professional. Pausing and thinking before he speaks. He does not shoot from the hip. For a young athlete in NYC, that is impressive.
“He’s a little bit like Derek to me,” Yankee Manager Joe Girardi said on Monday. “He’s got a smile all the time. He loves to play the game. You always think that he’s going to do the right thing on the field and off the field when you look at him. He’s got a presence about him. He plays the game to win all the time, and that’s the most important thing. It’s not about what you did that day.
Even Jeter himself is becoming a fan.
“The good thing about him is you can tell from his demeanor and his attitude that he wants to improve,” said Jeter on a video posted on yankees.com “He wants to be better and he handles himself the right way, not only on the field but off the field. So I’m a fan of his.”
Judge’s reaction? He is staying silent. I think Jeter would have done that, too.
In my limited experience in watching him, Judge comes to play everyday. He comes to win, everyday. That’s also what Jeter did. That’s what all the great Yankees have done in the past and do today.
With a bit of luck, Judge will be one of them. The coming years will tell us yes or no.
But for now, all rise for Aaron Judge!
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NOTE: Judge named American League Rookie of the Month