Aaron Judge just silently snuck into a notable place in Yankees franchise history

Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees
Chicago White Sox v New York Yankees / Rich Schultz/GettyImages

As if it wasn't already fairly clear when Aaron Judge signed on with the Yankees for (ostensibly) the remainder of his career after the 2022 season, there's a place waiting for him in franchise history when his time in pinstripes is over.

What that legacy will ultimately look like for the current Captain is still up for grabs. How many rings, at the end of the day? Will there be a ring? How many homers? A Cooperstown count, or a Monument Park total?

It's safe to say, though, that fans beyond the tri-state area will long remember Judge, and they'll remember him exclusively as a Yankee. On Tuesday, eagle-eyed fans were treated to an unexpected reminder of his impact.

From this point forth, anyone who Googles the history of the game's most historic franchise and stumbles onto their Baseball Reference page will be greeted by Judge's face, slotted at the back of their all-time bWAR leaders. The newly minted 32-year-old surpassed Mel Stottlemyre with his recent surge, and a further climb up the ladder -- first to Robbie Cano/Graig Nettles/Brett Gardner territory, then up to the immortals -- is all but assured.

Yankees' Aaron Judge silently reaches all-time WAR leaderboard

Judge's 2024 return to prominence has been far from silent, but even in a recent torrent of praise, it has still been understated.

After play on May 2 against Baltimore, the Judge questions where as loud as they'd been at any point, as his average dipped to .197. Would he ever be effective again after last summer's toe injury and this year's bizarre diagnosis of "mid-spring beat up"? Had his bat slowed imperceptibly because of other stressors, none of which had been communicated? How could one of the game's preeminent superstars regress so quickly in just one offseason?

Midway through the action on Monday, May 20, he had vaulted his average all the way past .270. His OPS+? 177. His power output now rivals any of his All-Star teammates. Once again, Judge is justifying any league-wide top 10 ranking and any corner of franchise history he's wedged himself into.

The season's first month was a reminder only of how difficult the game of baseball is, and how impressively Judge has been able to ascend over the past half-decade. The three weeks that followed, conversely, have been a reminder of his somehow-still-understated role in defining the Yankees, and this latest accomplishment serves to underscore that historic reality.