Aaron Judge is making his historic 2022 season with the New York Yankees look so effortless that people are scratching and clawing for ways to discredit it. “Why are pitchers throwing him strikes?!” “How does he continue to see off-speed pitches?!” “OK, well that pitch was garbage! Of course he hit a home run!” Yeah, except … not everyone capitalizes on strikes/pitcher mistakes?
Sadly, in baseball, you have to pitch to batters. And you have to throw strikes at some point. Walking Aaron Judge every plate appearance wouldn’t do the league any good and wouldn’t help pitchers challenge themselves.
But, most importantly, pitchers should theoretically be able to pitch to Judge. This is one of the most depressed offensive environments in baseball history and pitchers have never possessed a bigger advantage with how the game has evolved.
That’s exactly what makes Judge’s 2022 season so special. He’s 20 home runs ahead of the next closest slugger. His 213 OPS+ figure is out of this world. He’s logged a career-high in hits with 166 so far. He leads the way in OBP and slugging percentage, too. Unbelievable.
Outside of the high-profile home run chase (he’s two shy of Roger Maris’ AL record of 61 and one shy of Babe Ruth’s career-high 60 mark), Judge has a few other historical achievements he could pull off over the final two and a half weeks of the regular season.
Aaron Judge’s historic Yankees season can still produce one-of-a-kind achievements
3. Modern Day OPS+ Mark
This isn’t really an “achievement,” but it’s something! Wonder how hard it is to produce a 200 OPS+? Judge, who’s at 213 right now, could join Barry Bonds (multiple times), Sammy Sosa (2001) and Juan Soto (shortened 2020) as players who finished a season with the prestigious mark. Even modern day MVP king Mike Trout hasn’t even pulled it off (his career-best stands at 198 from the 2018 season).
Again, to put into perspective how nearly impossible this is, Judge, if the season ended today, would tie Jeff Bagwell (1994), Buddy Burbage (1934), Tip O’Neill (1887) and Edgar Wesley (1925) for 48th on the all-time single-season OPS+ list. Take out Bonds and the top-40 is essentially the dead ball era up until Mickey Mantle’s prime. Nothing after that.
Doing this clean while in a stumbling offensive landscape should give Judge extra points, too, but sadly we can’t make that happen.