Two incredible Aaron Judge stats beyond 51 home runs

Aaron Judge
Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge are neck and neck…in the MVP race.

Aaron Judge is much better than advertised. Here are two stats that are not directly connected to his rookie home run record, but help define how great he has been in 2017.

On-base percentage = .421. During his extended slump, a misconception emerged that Judge was a home run or nothing type of hitter, swinging for the bleachers on every swing. He certainly has his fair share of strikeouts, leading baseball with 206 in 674 plate appearances. That means he’s striking out 30% of the time…but he’s still getting on base 42% of the time! As Jayson Stark recently pointed out, no one has ever come within 50 percentage points of Judge’s .421 OBP while striking out 200+ times. And to put a .421 OBP in context, Hank Aaron was a career .305 hitter who never eclipsed .410, and MVP candidate Jose Altuve has an OBP of .412 this year.

Pitches seen = 2974. If you watch Judge on a regular basis, you may know that pitchers would probably prefer to just begin the at bat with a 3-2 count to save their arms. The total of 2974 pitches seen lead all MLB hitters in 2017. A lot has been made about the fact that Judge walks, strikes out, or homers in roughly 57% of his at bats. There is a misconception about the negativity of a strike out. On paper, the strikeout accomplishes nothing–runners don’t advance and an out is recorded. But a strikeout takes at least three pitches from the opposing pitcher, which is more productive that a first pitch double play, which has happened to Judge only twice this year.

Here’s a bonus for fun: Listed below are the ages, heights, and weights of Aaron Judge, Rob Gronkowski, Giancarlo Stanton, and Jose Altuve. Which is which?

Player A: 28 years old, 6’6″, 265 lbs

Player B: 27 years old, 6’6″, 245 lbs

Player C: 25 years old, 6’7″, 282 lbs

Player D: 27 years old, 5’6″, 165 lbs

Here are Judge’s career numbers.


MLB Power Rankings 9/20

  1. Cleveland Indians (94-57)
  2. Washington Nationals (91-59)
  3. Los Angeles Dodgers (96-55)
  4. Houston Astros (92-58)
  5. Arizona Diamondbacks (87-65)
  6. New York Yankees (84-67)
  7. Boston Red Sox (87-64)
  8. Chicago Cubs (84-66)
  9. Colorado Rockies (82-69)
  10. Minnesota Twins (78-73)
  11. Milwaukee Brewers (81-70)
  12. St. Louis Cardinals (78-72)
  13. Texas Rangers (74-76)
  14. Los Angeles Angels (76-74)
  15. Miami Marlins (71-80)
  16. Kansas City Royals (73-77)
  17. Seattle Mariners (74-77)
  18. Tampa Bay Rays (73-78)
  19. Toronto Blue Jays (71-80)
  20. Oakland Athletics (68-83)
  21. Baltimore Orioles (73-79)

Bold = clinched playoff position
Italics = currently hold a playoff position

The wild card dilemma

Baseball has a serious problem with the recently added wild card format. While the excitement of the postseason race is better than ever, the actual structure of the wild card game and subsequent divisional rounds may give wild card winners an advantage over division winners with the best record in their league. This has been a topic of discussion across national broadcasts, so let’s outline the issues here.

In theory, the wild card teams carry momentum into the wild card game, as at least one of the teams was likely using the end of the regular season to actual enter the playoffs. Here’s how the schedule looks this year:

October 1: Last day of the regular season. All games start around 3pm ET.
October 2: Day off
October 3: American League Wild Card Game
October 4: National League Wild Card Game
October 5: American League Divisional Series begins
October 6: National League Divisional Series begins

The problem? Take a team like the Los Angeles Dodgers, for example. The Dodgers recently clinched the NL West, leaving them with minimal meaningful baseball through October 1. Then the team is put on ice for four full days. Sure, they can set their ace for Game 1 of the divisional series, but that much time off could certainly do more damage than good for the lineup.

On the other side, the Colorado Rockies currently hold the second wild card by 2.5 games over the Milwaukee Brewers. The Brewers could get hot, overcome the Rockies, and win the second wild card on the last day of the regular season. They then carry momentum into the wild card game with the Arizona Diamondbacks. If the Brewers use their ace in the last game of the regular season, and survive the wild card game, then the same ace can pitch on normal rest in Game 1 of the divisional series, just like Los Angeles. The Dodgers have 17 more wins than the Brewers today.

The wild card game was meant to be an extra incentive for teams to win their division, but the scheduling has backfired. Since the inception of the second wild card, the wild card game winner is 23-19 overall against the division winner they play.

While the days off are unavoidable, the division series against the team with the best record can give more of a disadvantage to the wild card game winner. One idea I liked, which I believe was discussed on MLB Network, included changing the home and away schedule of the five-game series. The wild card game winner would get one home game at the start of the series, and then four consecutive games would be scheduled at the other ballpark. This would guarantee both teams a home game, but make the journey to the championship round much more challenging for the wild card game winner.

The second wild card is a blessing, but there must be more of a reward for being the best teams after 162 games in a long season.

Wild card race could be historic

The American League wild card standings are absurdly close with a few weeks remaining in the baseball season. At the moment, there are six teams within 3.5 games of the Minnesota Twins, who hold the second wild card position. Five of those chasers have 71 victories, and at one point yesterday four of them were .500 for the year.

The second wild card is a blessing for baseball, especially when you consider the lack of excitement in the division races this season. The American League East and National League Central are the only divisions where teams lead by less than 9.0 games. The Washington Nationals clinched their division yesterday, and the Los Angeles Dodgers would be in the postseason by now if they didn’t miraculously lose ten straight. It is ridiculous that the Arizona Diamondbacks have won 16 of 19, while LA has lost 15 of 16, and yet the Dodgers still have a 9.0 game lead.

The wild card race in the American League is still too cluttered to try and follow. There are too many teams playing each other, and any of the eight teams could re-position themselves before October baseball. We could have tiebreaker games for teams to play in the tiebreaker game! It is still very possible for three teams to reach the postseason from the same division–and that’s true for any of the three divisions.┬áCheck out the crazy standings.

Eliminate the second wild card, and the only race to follow in the American League is whether the Yankees can catch the Red Sox (3.5 back), or if one of the wild card contenders catch the Yankees (Minnesota is 3.5 back). The difference in drama with a a couple of weeks left is remarkable, as the second wild card is by far the best recent adjustment MLB has made.

Baseball should eliminate extra innings

Can you imagine baseball standings with a third column for ties? Or a total points system like the NHL? Either would be better than the uncertainty of extra inning baseball. On Tuesday night/Wednesday morning, the Boston Red Sox and Toronto Blue Jays played 19 innings to decide an important September game in the American League playoff race. The two teams featured 19 combined pitchers, including six relievers who threw more than one inning of work.

Red Sox pitchers have now pitched more than 47 innings of baseball beyond regulation during the 2017 season. That’s more than five full games. Capping the games after nine full innings would eliminate the excitement of the 10th and 11th inning drama when most extra inning games end, but it would also prevent tired play, injuries, and the abuse of a bullpen. Extra innings could be added back in the postseason, or even opted for during the regular season if both managers agree at the end of nine innings of play.

Red Sox should rest Chris Sale

Sale’s arm might be getting tired as he approaches 200 innings.

Today is September 2nd. Somehow the summer has gone, school is around the corner, and the Red Sox are a lock for the 2017 MLB postseason.  Led by ace southpaw Chris Sale, Boston could find themselves in a rematch with the Cleveland Indians in about a month.


The graphic to the right shows Sale’s ERA by month over the last three full seasons (2014-2016). The ballooned ERA in September is based on a large sample size of 91 innings and telling. Given their light September schedule, why not give Sale at least a week of rest before October baseball?