Aaron Judge, Yankees Tadium
ESNY Graphic, Getty Images

New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge is ready to show the league he is still a top player in the league in 2020. 

The New York Yankees star seems to be forgotten as the team’s top talent since the acquisition of Gerrit Cole. While Cole is the new face and coming off an electric 2019 season, it is  Aaron Judge who is still the best player on the team.

In 2020, Judge will leave no doubts about his talent and his presence in the game of baseball. 

All rise. No. 99 is poised to a dominant campaign.

Nobody Hits the Ball Harder

Since Judge started the season with the team in 2017, he has amazed all of baseball with his ability to hit the ball hard. Nobody has a higher average exit velocity among qualifiers since 2017. In 2019, Judge had the highest exit velocity average of his career at 95.9 MPH. So why weren’t his results as good? 

Judge’s launch angle was significantly lower than in years prior. It mainly comes from a month span where Judge was hitting the ball on the ground more than he should have. Once, Judge fixed his launch angle bid August, his results became a lot better. Look for Judge to continue that going into the next season. 

While his .382 wOBA is great, his .401 xwOBA was 10th in all of baseball in 2019. Judge has underperformed his xwOBA every year of his career. A guy like Judge is most likely going to underperform for his entire career but it shows what he can be offensively.

Judge’s walk rate is still top of the line, albeit trending in the wrong direction. Since 2017, His 16.5% BB% is 2nd to Mike Trout in the league. His eye and ability to hit the ball hard will always make him a deadly hitter. 

An Elite Defender

Aaron Judge has developed into an elite defender in right field. He had a breakout 2019 defensively, in what was probably the best defensive performance by a right fielder that year. Judge led all RF’s in DRS, UZR/150, and OAA.

He was recognized by Wilson as the defensive player in the year in right field. He did not qualify for a Gold Glove as he didn’t meet the inning requirement. To be fair, the Gold Gloves aren’t good rewards for defense, Andrew Benintendi was a finalist for a gold glove despite being one of the worst defensive outfielders’ in baseball. 

A one-year sample is not big enough to determine how good a defender is. Going back to 2017, Judge is 3rd among all outfielders in DRS. Only Kevin Kiermaier and Mookie Betts have a higher DRS value. He’s second in UZR/150 among qualifiers as well. Judge has turned into one of the most prolific defensive outfielders in baseball.

If Judge continues his trend, he very well could take that top spot on the leaderboards from Betts. 

A Full Season

The Yankee superstar has missed a significant amount of time during the last two years due to injury. Despite missing all of that time, Judge is sixth in all of baseball in fWAR since 2017. Judge and Mike Trout are the only players in the top 10 to play under 400 games.

If you were to prorate his fWAR to equal the number of games Mookie Betts has played, 439, his fWAR goes to 21.4, which would rank him 3rd in all of baseball. His fWAR/150 average over the last 3 years is 7.3. He is an elite talent.

Judge has garnered the reputation of being injury prone but that seems unfair to him. In 2018, Judge missed around 40 games because he was hit by a pitch from Jacob Junis. If you can avoid injury while getting hit where he got hit, then you must be superhuman.

This past season, he missed time due to an oblique injury. There are no signs of any lingering injuries. Judge is completely healthy entering the 2020 season. 

He is an MVP candidate in 2020 and he’s ready to lead the New York Yankees to a championship. 

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