For the first two months of the season it was an “argument” of young New York outfielders, Aaron Judge or Michael Conforto. That was never much of an argument and Conforto proved that as he has been slumping as of late. On May 24th he was batting .341, he’s now down to .285. He has had a couple injuries along the way including being hit in the wrist during last nights game against the Giants. The man Mets fans were thrilled with has dramatically taken a back seat in New York and has completely played his way out of this “argument.”
The argument of young stars has now shifted to Aaron Judge vs Cody Bellinger. Bellinger has been unbelievable at the plate hitting 24 hr in only 58 games. Bellinger didn’t make his debut until April 25th and still leads the NL in hr at only 21 years old. Bellinger tied Gary Sanchez and Wally Berger’s record this year for quickest to 20 hr (51 games). The hr numbers obviously jump off the page, but Bellinger is only hitting .270 and only leads the NL in one other category, Slugging Percentage. He also has 72 strikeouts in 58 games, striking out in 29% of his plate appearances and only taken 24 walks in those 58 games. This is where I believe Aaron Judge separates himself.
Judge is having a historic rookie season and is basically the AL MVP in everybody’s mind as of right now. Judge leads the AL in HR, RBI’s, Runs, Walks, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, OPS, OPS+ (don’t know what the fuck this means but he leads the league in it), and Total Bases. He’s also tied with the Rays Cody Dickerson in batting average at .330. Aaron Judge, the man that struck out in literally 50% of his plate appearances last year is competing for the TRIPLE CROWN this year. No one, including the Yankees front office imagined this as a possibility. Judge doesn’t just lead the AL in basically every major offensive category, he also leads all of baseball in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at 4.57. The one other stat of Judge that amazes me, he has 6 stolen bases on 8 attempts. The guy is 6’7″ 280 but sure as hell doesn’t run like it, amazes me every time he steals a base that a man of his size is able to do that.
All non Yankees fans keeping saying, “he’ll settle back down to the norm, law of averages yada yada yada.” Yeah, well it’s June 27th and he’s actually gotten even better.
The other argument against Judge is that he “strikes out to much.” He’s got 92 strikeouts in 314 plate appearances which is a 29% clip, the same as Bellinger. Judge is that rare breed that is aggressive at the plate while being disciplined at the same time, leading the AL in walks proves that. Maybe this stat would be worrisome but when you’re leading the AL in basically every offensive category, every single Yankee fan will take the strike outs. Also when you’re the biggest player in baseball your strike zone is gonna be huge, pretty tough to cover the entire zone.
Judge is clearly having the better all around season than Bellinger. This year every baseball fan would of course take his production over Bellinger’s. So I am obviously picking Judge over Bellinger this year. However, if asked the age old question “who would you rather build your team around?” I’d probably pick Bellinger. At the age of 21, turning 22 on July 13th, he has more potential than Judge as he his starting his career 3+ years younger than Judge. So even the diehard Yankee fan in me, that wants to be bias and pick the best player in baseball this year, the God amongst men, Aaron Judge. I will be unbiased and admit, Cody Bellinger has a brighter future, but only because he has that 3+ years extra on Judge’s career and is putting up very impressive numbers with plenty of time to get to Judge’s caliber. Even though I’ll admit I’d take Bellinger’s future, it doesn’t take away any appreciation I have for how unbelievable of a season Judge is having and the tank he can be in the middle of the Yankees lineup for years to come. #AllRise