The Curse of Jerry Hairston, Jr./Eric Hinske:
 

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

NY Times: At the Home Run Derby, Aaron Judge Makes Baseballs His Victims

MIAMI — In some ways, Aaron Judge was just like any other awe-struck fan on Monday afternoon, when he finally met the best player from his favorite team when he was a child. Judge spotted the San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey in a tunnel under the stands before batting practice and sprang into action.

“He was walking into the clubhouse, and I had to stop him,” Judge said with a smile. “I said: ‘Buster, I’m a huge fan. It’s been fun watching what you’re doing.’”

That moment aside, though, Judge is really not at all like a paying customer — or even much like any of his peers in the All-Star locker room. He is a singular force in his sport, the only position player in baseball history to be at least 6 feet 7 inches and at least 280 pounds. He has also been its best performer this season.

“It’s pretty incredible,” said Posey, the starting catcher for the National League. “I don’t think I can remember, even watching baseball growing up, seeing somebody as big as him move as well as he does.”

Judge towers over the game now, after turning Marlins Park into his personal launching pad. Judge blasted 47 home runs to all corners of the ballpark, beating Justin Bour, Cody Bellinger and, finally, Miguel Sano to win the Home Run Derby.

I caught a bit of the home run derby and Judge had some really impressive shots.  He is almost certainly going to regress in the second half of the season because there are very few players who can maintain a .329/.448/.691 line over a full season.  That will probably get blamed on the home run derby instead of the law of averages.

As disappointing as the last month plus has been for the team overall, Judge has been the story that keeps on giving.  The Yankees’ rebuild is off to a fantastic start with him as the cornerstone of it.

--Posted at 7:54 am by SG / 30 Comments | - (0)

Comments

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It’s too bad that the Bour-Judge matchup was in the first round since it was the only time Judge was remotely challenged.

It still takes a tad too long, but this HR Derby format is much better than the old one.

[0] I know that Judge will regress, but with as hard as he hits the ball, it seems like he may be able to maintain a very high BABIP and stay over .300. Not that I think he can maintain his current .426 rate, but I think a more “reasonable” .340-ish rate is very feasible given his quality of contact.

ZiPS says his rest of season BABIP will be .336 and he’ll hit .261/.351/.543 over the rest of the season.  Steamer says BABIP will be .330 and he will hit .263/.357/.510.

That ZiPS projection would have him ending the year at .300/.408/.629 with 48 homers.  Steamer would put him at .300.409/.611 with 45 homers.

He’d add 1.9 WAR in ZiPS and 1.6 WAR in Steamer to his 5.5 and end the year at 7.4 or 7.1 respectively.

This really hammers home how ridiculously good Mike Trout is.  Aaron Judge is having an absolutely phenomenal season, and if he were to keep it up all year he’d be about as valuable as Trout typically is every year.

What does Cairo say?

You have to give SG time to configure in the pro-Yankee bias into Cairo.

By the way, I can’t wait until the Yankees get back someone like Hicks who can get on base in front of Judge.

My ideal lineup would be:

Gardner LF
Hicks CF
Judge RF
Holliday 1B
Sanchez C
Castro 2B
Frazier DH
Gregorius SS
Headley 3B

How drool-worthy is that freakin’ lineup? And they could seriously have that lineup!!

And if Holliday can’t play first base…shit, I dunno what I’d want in that scenario. smile I guess platoon Frazier, Gardner and Hicks and have Choi play first? Learn how to play first base, Frazier!

[3] That Smellsbury stinks.

[2] I have to ask, in Trout’s first MLB season, were people expecting him to regress halfway through? I say that because sometimes great players come along and are… uh… great.  Maybe Judge is a great player? It is hard to imagine his performance is going to drop off simply because it should.  Since Holliday went down he has still been hitting for power with no real protection in the lineup.  If anything, I see pitchers working around him more than they have in the 1st half, and he has shown the ability to be very patient at the plate.  His HRs may go down as a result, but he will collect more bases via walks and maintain his slash line.

Now, I don’t expect him to be Babe Ruth the rest of his career, but if he stays healthy its hard to imagine that the rockets he hits are suddenly going to be turned into outs.

Coming into the year here is how ZiPS, Steamer and CAIRO had Judge projected:

ZiPS: .229/.301/.473
Steamer: .248/.324/.446
CAIRO: .254/.340/.461

So let’s say that CAIRO would now say Judge will hit .279/.386/.528 over the rest of the season.  Probably gets to 50 homers at that pace as well.

[7] We are in uncharted territory.  Judge never did anything like this in the minors, but he clearly has made adjustments that are not part of his minor league track record.  That makes any statistical attempt at projecting him a crapshoot.

He is doing things no one has ever done, but he’s also a unique consideration given his size and athleticism.  If anyone could ever come along and do the things he’s been doing and keep it up, it’d almost have to be someone like Judge, right?

Yeah, you can see by the way he hit home runs all over the park that he has natural power on a totally different level than all the other guys in the competition, even Stanton.

[9] Exactly.  Its not like his swings are flukey, eyes-closed, bail & wail types.  He has a very compact and powerful swing with great plate coverage, and now seemingly the strike zone discipline that many players lack.  He also seems to have his emotions in check.

If Judge is this good, imagine if Andre the Giant had gone into baseball instead of choreographed acrobatics and acting. He would have hit like .900.

How can you project the MLBer who is probably one of the biggest, strongest players ever yet is athletic and coordinated.  He and Stanton may be the next vanguard of power hitters.

I think Andre’s love of booze would have precluded him from hitting .900.  Maybe .750 is more realistic.

I’m most worried about how he will age. He’s 25 and will be 31 when free agency rolls around. I hope he’s still raking so he can get some of that sweet cheddar.

BABIP of 426 seems pretty unsustainable, especially throughout a career.  Here’s a list of top ten BABIPs since 1945.  I didn’t read the analysis, I assume the numbers are right or close enough:

http://www.fangraphs.com/community/the-ten-highest-babips-since-1945/

The top season is 408 and no one appears in the top ten twice.  That suggests that Judge can’t keep it up, or that this is his career year.  Then again everyone on that list was a pretty good hitter, though in different ways.

However, Judge is somewhat uncharted territory.  Has there ever been a player like him?  Maybe not.

[2] Curse them for picking Trout in front of the Yankees.

(18) He wouldn’t even need a mitt to play.  Also, he’s a plus plus defender at short (I assume.)

He was also completely charming in Princess Bride, despite, I assume, being drunk the whole time.

[16] It’s too bad that we don’t have access to exit velocity data from way back (many slaps to the head of Michael Kay).  Cone has made very clear points during several broadcasts about an apparent correlation between exit velocity and batting average (much to the chagrin of the non-ketchup-eating Michael Kay).  Simply, hit the ball really fucking hard and fielders can’t get it as often.

The only things standing in the way of Judge hitting the ball really fucking hard for the next 5 years (his prime) are injury, lack of plate discipline, pitchers not throwing him strikes, eyesight goes bad, or Michael Kay putting mustard on a hot dog.  So, let us hope he stays disciplined, that we always have somebody who can hit behind him, and that he never meets with a Yankee team doctor (for two reasons).

[10] https://baseballsavant.mlb.com/hr_derby

The difference between Judge’s spray chart and everyone else’s is just LOL. Sanchez is the only one that noticeably hit a few to the opposite side of center, and he doesn’t come anywhere near Judge. Judge’s spray chart looks like what you’d expect to see if you were to superimpose Bellinger’s onto Stanton’s.

Yay, no game to lose today!

On Chance Adams, he has a 42.7% ground ball rate between AA and AAA. What does this say about his odds of being a good MLB starter?

If any of ya fellow whackos are around Alphabet City next Monday night, I’m playing a set at Otto’s Shrunken Head at 9:30 PM!

I was thinking about the first base situation, and what about Scooter Gennett on the Reds? He’s a middle infielder who could probably play first and is hitting the hell out of the ball this season. Then next year if you want to sell high on Castro, you can play him at 2B until Gleyber is ready, or even see if he could possibly handle third full-time. (though that may be wishful thinking)

[24] He should be DFA’d at once.

I thought MLB rules stipulated each franchise only gets one Scooter for its entire lifespan?

25. Great venue, have fun. What’s the band?

[25] Why don’t we trade for a first baseman to play first base?

28. I am a solo-songwriter. I spend too much time on baseball blogs in my mom’s basement to form a band.

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