Once upon a time, there was a moment where, “Who would you rather have: Yankees superstar Aaron Judge, or Twins standout Max Kepler?” was a legitimate debate.
OK. You got us. No, there wasn’t. But there was a moment midway through the very disorienting year of 2020 where a Twitter personality of some renown decided to posit the question to the crowd, “just stating facts” like a political commentator trying to stir up the electorate.
When Ryan Spaeder tweeted the back of Judge’s and Kepler’s baseball cards midway through 2020, displaying their past 162 games’ worth of counting stats, no context was given. Kepler was in the midst of his career-best power stretch, sure, but had also just finished going 0-for-10 with three walks in the 2019 ALDS against New York — and, after the 2020 season, he followed that up with another 0-fer playoff series against the Astros, finishing 0-for-8. Tough look.
At the time, no one would’ve taken Kepler over Judge’s potential, no matter how “even” the power numbers looked. Spaeder pulled the obvious tricks. He included homers and RBI, sure, but he added strikeouts so would-be retweeters would look at Judge’s garish total and decide he was the lowest of the low. He left out OBP intentionally (Judge’s was nearly 80 points higher for his career) because he wanted people to demean Ks and forget about walks. You know how politicians court certain demographics? Spaeder didn’t care about Kepler at all. In essence, he wanted the Red Sox and Astros vote.
Anyway, now that Spaeder’s returned to debate Judge and Ohtani in the MVP chase (guess which side of the aisle he’s on there), it’s worth examining just how far Kepler and Judge have diverged since mid-August 2020.
Yankees’ Aaron Judge is, uh, better than Twins outfielder Max Kepler
Just laying out the back of the baseball card again. Nothing wrong with it. Letting the facts speak for themselves. All the Judge numbers are, like, bigger. Is that good?
It’s hard to face plant harder than in the Judge/Kepler arena, but Spaeder’s certainly trying these days.
First came his baseless allegations of cheating throughout Major League Baseball, which he tweeted himself, couldn’t provide proof of, then declared were “ruining his life” (you did it yourself!!!). Hate when I intentionally do something goofy that ruins my life.
Now, he’s hot on the trail of the Judge/Ohtani discourse, which is a pretty easy one. Ohtani’s having a spectacular season, both on the mound and at the plate. It’s not particularly difficult to lay out why he might be deserving of the MVP win.
Spaeder’s having trouble with it, though, instead asking Yankees fans to take 24 Aaron Judge homers away to add a very good pitcher to their rotation (they already have those!), while also claiming Ohtani is out-homering Judge “58 to 57,” if you count Ohtani’s starts as home runs.
Not kidding on that one.
The Yankees’ rotation has mostly held its own this year, while losing 24 Judge home runs could easily take nine or ten or eleven wins off the Yankees’ record. No deal.
Here’s to hoping Kepler at least makes this competitive next year and re-enters the MVP debate against Judge. That could get spicy.