Yankees: Why Aaron Judge will be the team’s Reggie Jackson
As Yankees fans, often we like to put our players in boxes with labels that say he reminds of so and so, who played for the Bombers during the Nineties, or whenever. The Yankees have an All Star player now who fits nicely into a box with Mr. October. Here’s why.
Yankees All Star right fielder, Aaron Judge, hasn’t played long enough to draw permanent comparisons to other players who have played for the Bombers. But even now, trends are beginning to develop that form a composite of the complete player he will end up being.
In short, Judge will hit 500-600 home runs in his career if he plays fifteen years or more. He will have an on-base percentage approaching .400, and he will average nearly 200 strikeouts per season, often leading the league in this category.
His batting average will never again reach the heights of .334 where he stood before the All Star Game and will probably settle somewhere in the .270-.275 range.
With a few postseason heroics tossed in and continued good defense, Judge will be a sure-fire selection to the Hall of Fame, just like Reggie Jackson was, only without the good defense Judge is exhibiting.
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Reggie Jackson finished his career with more strikeouts (2,597) than anyone has ever had in baseball. He led the league five times in strikeouts. He was a career .262 hitter with a .356 OBP. And, of course, he also slugged 563 home runs.
Aaron Judge struck out for the 200th time in his major league career last night. Get this, though. There has never been a player to bat .270 or more and strike out more than 200 times in a season. Judge is a cinch to do that this season, and probably for many more seasons to come.
So, the similarity between Judge and Jackson is really about strikeouts and home runs. Their careers are branded by power at the expense of strikeouts. No problem, the Yankees will take it. Just as they did with Jackson and Mickey Mantle before him.
It’s not a perfect match, though
Nevertheless, Yankees hitting instructor, Marcus Thames, will continue working with Judge by comparing video from the first half to his at-bats of late. He’ll point out that he’s holding his hands higher now and his number 99 is no longer visible when he takes his stance in the box, in the same way, it was before.
Judge’s comfort zone now is all the things he’s doing wrong. Adjusting to a new comfort zone, which is actually his old comfort zone may take some more time. But eventually, he’ll ease back into it. And everything except for the strikeouts will disappear until it’s time for the next round of adjustments when pitchers catch up to him again.
You wouldn’t know it now, but Judge has good discipline at the plate. In some situations, he’ll take a walk and his on-base percentage will always be in the top-10 in the league.
What I’m saying is that Judge is likely to have a career at least as good as Jackson’s, with a good chance of being even better.
But we need to get beyond the strikeouts and the probability that Judge, for instance, will set a major league record tonight when he strikes out at least once in his twenty-something consecutive game, replacing Adam Dunn in the record books.
It won’t phase Aaron Judge a bit if it happens, so why should anyone else care? Back in June, everyone was tallying up the possibility of 60 or 70 home runs and an MVP award to boot. It’s not going happen.
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But what is happening is that Judge has a .270 average with 40 home runs, 89 RBI, a .395 OBP in 141 games with the Yankees to date. Oh yes, and those 200 strikeouts too That’s not even a full season.
I’m in Joe Girardi‘s camp. Just let this guy play. He’ll figure it out.
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