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