Is Aaron Judge's Major League Debut a Sign of Things to Come?
When one door closes, another opens, or so the saying goes.
After the New York Yankees released Alex Rodriguez over the weekend (one of the game's greatest, like it or not), they called-up their 24 year-old prospect, Aaron Judge. An imposing figure on the field -- Judge is listed as 6'7", 275 pounds -- the young outfielder has quickly demonstrated his impressive power.
Judge and fellow rookie Tyler Austin both made their big league debut on Saturday for the Yankees, with Austin hitting seventh and Judge following right behind him in the order. Austin went yard in his first at-bat, putting pressure on the other rook to produce as well. Judge didn't disappoint.
Aaron Judge's first career homer was an absolute bomb. He too got the baseball back #HereComesTheJudge pic.twitter.com/y2N5SDv90E
— Bronx Bombers (@BronxBomberBlog) August 13, 2016
Judge's home run traveled an estimated 457 feet, which is absolutely crushed, and was hit 126 feet farther than Austin's wall-scraper. A home run is a home run, though, and the two youngsters achieved a feat that had never been accomplished before in the history of baseball.
#Yankees Tyler Austin & Aaron Judge are the first players in baseball history to hit back-to-back HR in their first ever plate appearance.
— Ryan M. Spaeder (@theaceofspaeder) August 13, 2016
Not a bad way to begin a career, and Judge would soon showcase his pop yet again, this time in his second game in the bigs.
Aaron Judge has homered in each of his first two major-league games with the #Yankees. pic.twitter.com/ravhnrsCnl
— Max Wildstein (@MaxWildstein) August 14, 2016
While this wasn't the impressive tater his first longball was, Judge made history yet again.
Aaron Judge: first AL player to homer in first AB of each of his first two games #EliasSays https://t.co/3CKxqFVYp6 pic.twitter.com/yxgzgwaMDO
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 15, 2016
His second home run also came in his first at-bat of the game, making him the first player in the American League to accomplish this feat. Judge didn't record another hit in Sunday's contest, but with his first inning home run, he tallied two homers in his first five plate appearances in the Majors.
The two home runs hit in his first two games also put him in the Yankees' record books, making him just the second player in franchise history to accomplish this. However, the first to do so, Joe Lefebvre, finished with just 31 home runs for his career, so we shouldn't read too much into Judge's achievement.
His power shouldn't come as a surprise, considering how he performed at the Triple-A level this season. Judge slashed .270/.366/.489, with a .219 ISO, a .384 wOBA, a 148 wRC+ and 19 home runs in 410 plate appearances. Of all of the Triple-A hitters with more home runs than he has this season, just three have fewer plate appearances than Judge.
He'll likely strike out a decent amount -- his 23.9 strikeout percentage in Triple-A this year was the lowest total he's posted between his Double-A and Triple-A career -- but he's also shown good plate discipline. Judge recorded an 11.2 walk percentage in 260 Triple-A plate appearances in 2015, before slightly upping this total to 11.5 percent in Triple-A this season. If he's able to maintain his ability to draw walks, while also hitting for power, Judge will be a successful big-leaguer.
However, players with Judge's size do not have track records as being durable players. When Giancarlo Stanton injured himself over the weekend, Statcast's Mike Petriello researched players who are Stanton's size (6'6", 240 pounds) or bigger to see their number of career games. The list of players with "lengthy" careers is short.
Here's entire list of guys as big as Stanton who have had lengthy careers: https://t.co/rCepgdG75M pic.twitter.com/VYrqPwgWPz
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) August 14, 2016
Jude has already battled injuries this season, and while he was able to return and eventually earn a call-up, history suggests that injuries will follow him over the duration of his career.
He's healthy now and off to a hot start, so that shouldn't stop you from adding him in fantasy leagues, as our own John Stolnis recommends.