The Judge’s Power: A look at Aaron Judge

By Dave Mitchner – Last Word on Baseball

“All Rise!”

For the first time in the storied history of the New York Yankees, the franchise has named a section of seats for a current player. Sure, old Yankee Stadium was the House that Ruth Built, but the Babe did not have a gimmick group of fans. That all changed when the giant, 25-year-old rookie with a big bat joined the franchise, and the fans established the “Judge’s Chambers” for Aaron Judge.

Judge’s Power

To say Judge’s power is phenomenal is an understatement. The Yankees media guide lists Judge at 6’7″ and a massive 282 pounds. Earlier this week, Judge hit a home run into the wall of retired numbers at Yankee Stadium, estimated by Statracks at 495 feet. This comes after an interview with Bob Costas where he figured that with perfect conditions in Colorado, he could hit one 500 feet.

Judge possesses a fundamentally solid swing, with a big leg kick. He keeps his head over his back hip, and swings with a slight upward angle on contact. In short, he combines a nearly perfect fundamental power swing with a massively strong frame. This combination makes him a white whale when it comes to pure power hitters, and allows him to completely destroy the ball.

So far this season, he twice broke the record for exit velocity record, first in April with an exit velocity of 119 MPH, and then earlier this month with an exit velocity of 121 MPH. His average exit velocity is 96.79 MPH. In short, Judge was built to hit home runs.

Pace vs. Rookie Record

Mark McGwire currently owns the season record for home runs by a rookie, when he hit 49 in 1987. McGwire had 641 plate appearances that season, with 161 hits, 28 doubles, 131 strike outs, and 71 walks. His an HR/PA ratio of 13.08 was assisted by the presence of teammate Jose Canseco, which forced pitchers to pitch to one of the two Oakland Athletics power hitters. He averaged a home run every 3.08 games during that rookie season. McGwire grounded into just six double plays that year.

By comparison, Judge has 254 plate appearances thus far in the 2017 season, and has accounted for a league-leading 22 home runs. His HR/PA ratio of 11.55 puts him on pace to utterly demolish the McGwire’s rookie record. He is currently hitting a home run every 2.68 games. However, he is a double play risk, as he has already grounded into 10 double plays. He’s also drawn 39 walks this year, including three of the intentional variety. Expect this number to increase over the course of the year as teams try to prevent him from beating them. He is currently drawing a walk every 6.51 plate appearances, compared to McGwire’s rookie ratio of 9.03.

Even with teams pitching around him later in the season, expect him to hit at least 50 home runs and break McGwire’s rookie record.

60+ pace

The Yankees have played 61 games thus far, with Judge playing in 59. He is on pace to play in 157 games this year. At his current pace, a safe projection for his total this season is 58 home runs. Baseball’s season is long and strenuous, and no prediction is safe. Between injuries, slumps, and pitchers saying “put him on,” there is really no way to say with any certainty if Judge will generate the eighth single season of 60 plus home runs. However, if he does, he will be the first American League player to do so since Roger Maris in 1961.

Court is in Session

Judge is a special player. Even with modern parks shortening the fences, Judge’s power would knock the ball out of the mammoth cathedrals of old. That said, a rookie hitting 60+ home runs is not something anyone expects. Watching the Bronx Baby Bombers will be interesting, and Judge’s power is definitely something to behold.

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