As a rookie, Aaron Judge was a beast, but will he ever be that good again?
At the age of 25, Judge blasted a record-breaking 53 home runs and broke Mark McGwire‘s single-season rookie home run record. After that amazing season, Judge began to draw comparisons to teammate Giancarlo Stanton, who knocked 59 homers out of the park that season. In the same season, Judge became the 2017 Home Run Derby Champion and was named an All-Star game starter. Once the season ended and the Yankees were knocked out of the postseason by the eventual champions, it was clear Judge was one of the new young faces of baseball.
After that magical season, the Yankees started to look at Judge as one of their main power hitters. The team brought in home run leader Giancarlo Stanton to try to build a team with offensive power.
In 2018, Judge looked to be having a good sophomore campaign before he was knocked out of action. Judge was named an All-Star for the second straight season, and he batted .277 with 25 home runs and 58 RBI. On July 26, Judge was struck by Royals pitcher, Jacob Junis, and he fractured his right wrist. Though doctors estimated Judge to be back in three weeks, it took him two months to fully recover and return to action. While he returned for the last month of the season, Judge wasn’t the same player he was before.
As the 2019 season rolled around, many people were expecting Aaron Judge to be the amazing player he was as a rookie. Judge started off at a pace that would have led to a very good season. In his first 20 games, he held a .288 batting average with five home runs and 11 RBI. However, on April 20, Judge suffered an oblique strain and didn’t play again until June 21. Despite his injuries, on Aug. 27, Judge hit his 100th career home run. He was the third-fastest player to reach that mark, only behind Ryan Howard and teammate Gary Sanchez.
Pros | Here’s why he could be amazing again.
Aaron Judge has already proven himself as one of the players in the new generation of MLB stars. After falling victim to these injuries, Judge has tried to come back stronger than ever. In the six games the Yankees played from Aug. 23 to 28, Judge homered in five of them.
As well as being a good hitter, Judge also has top of the line defense. Standing at 6-foot-7, Judge’s long strides enable him to cover a lot of ground and get under popped-up balls in the outfield. He is also known to get over the wall to rob home runs and make SportsCenter Top 10-worthy plays.
Cons | There will always be that “what-if.”
Aaron Judge has faced injuries the past two years and there’s nothing that says he won’t face some again in the near future. After all of the injured Yankees this year, there wasn’t much attention towards Judge’s injury, but that doesn’t mean it was any better. While Judge currently makes less than one-fifth of the league average, when his contract expires, he could be seeing a contract above Mike Trout‘s record-setting one. If the Yankees re-sign him in 2023, they don’t want to have another Jacoby Ellsbury situation.
As a Yankees fan, I am slightly biased in saying that I think the Yankees will re-sign Judge. He can definitely be as good as he was; it’s more of a question of when. If he can stay healthy and continue to improve, there’s no reason he can’t be the MVP.