Joey Votto defends Yankees’ Aaron Judge in weird ballpark debate
Statistics can be used in baseball to paint a more cohesive picture of the events you’re witnessing. Why was an infielder’s first step to the left? Why was the batter ahead of the changeup? Why isn’t there a single defender on the left side of the infield? All can be explained using well-hewn probabilities.
Sadly, sometimes statistics can also be used completely incorrectly. Incongruous situations can be mapped onto each other to fuel grievance culture. “Wait, that fly out would’ve been a homer at Fenway?!” Yes. If it were hit harder, and also hit 500 miles away in Massachusetts.
Luckily, Reds star Joey Votto is here to combat the rise of armchair statisticians, as well as defend Yankees slugger Aaron Judge’s unique set of skills, which can’t be easily copied, pasted, and replicated across America.
As Judge’s chase for 61 and 62 stretches through the Yankees’ clinch celebration, plenty of creators have gone viral off Judge’s name. The latest, a “Rylan Domingues” fellow, decided to paint with broad strokes to claim that Yankee Stadium doesn’t give him any advantage at all, and the slugger could be chasing 70 homers if he played all of his home games in Colorado.
A useless experiment for many reasons; it doesn’t take a baseball historian to know that even the Rockies don’t play all 162 games at Coors Field. Don’t need John Thorn delivering the details on that one.
Votto found the tweet floating around and took it several layers deeper, though, pointing out the fundamental flaw in the analysis: hitters are smarter than that. They think. They exploit different areas of different ballparks, and enter different series with different game plans. Judge, specifically, is so good that Votto believes his season would be nearly identical, no matter the conditions of his home park.
Joey Votto defends claim that Yankees star Aaron Judge’s season has nothing to do with Yankee Stadium
As Judge approaches the AL record, the discourse has actually been filled with reasons Yankee Stadium did not help him along the way, rather than subtle digs pointing in the other direction.
Votto’s testimony gave the players’ perspective, and gave Judge the credit he was due for adapting to multiple environments. MLB.com’s Mike Petriello dropped the analyst’s perspective on Tuesday, proving repeatedly that Judge’s 2022 greatness has transcended his home ballpark.
His home and road splits feature a higher OPS away from Yankee Stadium, despite the highest home mark in the league. Yankee Stadium hasn’t even been a particularly advantageous hitters’ park in quite a while; the Statcast park factors rank it somewhere in the middle.
And, of course, Judge’s home runs have by and large been blasts that would leave any ballpark, no matter which dimensions you’re pasting on top of a home run flow chart.
"Judge has 60 homers. Per Statcast numbers, which look at the trajectory of all of his long batted balls and give you an estimate of what he’d have if he played in a neutral park, his expected number is … 59.9. Or 60. (Compare that to Rizzo, who has 32 home runs, but has an expected number of 28.)"
Take it from the analytics or take it from the All-Stars: Aaron Judge’s season would be special no matter where he called home.
Uh, teams interested in pursuing him in free agency … don’t, uh, read this.