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Here’s what you need to know about Judge, who hit free agency after the conclusion of the 2022 World Series:
Birthdate: April 26, 1992 (Age 31 in 2023)
Primary position: RF
Height/weight: 6-foot-7, 282 lbs.
Place of birth: Linden, Calif.
School: Linden (Calif.) HS; Fresno State University
Drafted: 1st round (32nd), 2013, by Yankees
MLB debut: Aug. 13, 2016
Qualifying offer: Received one
STAT TO KNOW
Judge may be best known for his titanic blasts, but he’s far from a one-trick pony. Year in and year out, he has shown himself to be one of the best all-around players in the game. Judge has produced 37.2 bWAR since his rookie season in 2017, second only to Mookie Betts among MLB players in that span. Excluding the shortened 2020 campaign, the outfielder was the only player to record at least 5.0 bWAR in every full season from 2017-22.
Because he didn’t break in as a full-time MLB player until his age-25 season, Judge is older than many of the star free agents from recent offseasons. For instance, Corey Seager, the highest-paid free agent from the 2021-22 class, was entering his age-28 season when he signed a 10-year, $325 million deal with the Rangers last November. Judge is still in his prime going into his age-31 season, but it’s fair to wonder how he’ll look on the back end of a long-term deal.
His 2022 season was historic in more ways than one
While Judge came up short in his quest for the Triple Crown, falling to Luis Arraez (.316 BA) in the AL batting title race, he truly had a historic year, and not just in the home run department. His 207 wRC+ tied him for seventh best in the integration era (since 1947). In the expansion era (since 1961), only Bonds has had a better season.
Highest wRC+ in a single season, since 1947:
- Barry Bonds, 2002: 244
- Barry Bonds, 2001: 235
- Barry Bonds, 2004: 233
- Ted Williams, 1957: 223
- Mickey Mantle, 1957: 217
- Barry Bonds, 2003: 212
- Aaron Judge, 2022: 207
- Ted Williams, 1954: 207
- Ted Williams, 1947: 207
Judge was miles ahead of every other hitter, leading MLB in homers, RBIs (tied for the lead with Pete Alonso), runs, on-base percentage, OPS, total bases and WAR. He hit 16 more homers than Phillies slugger Kyle Schwarber, who finished second in the Majors with 46 big flies. That marked the largest difference between the top two home run hitters in a season since 1932, when Ruth (58) had 17 more than Jimmie Foxx (41).
Nobody hits the ball harder
You don’t need numbers to know that Judge hits missiles, but his batted-ball metrics help to show the extent of his dominance with the bat. Here are Judge’s percentile rankings in average exit velocity for every full season since his rookie year: 100th, 100th, 100th, 100th and (you guessed it) 100th. Ditto for hard-hit rate, the percentage of batted balls with an exit velocity of 95 mph or higher.
In 2022, Judge also led all players in barrels, or batted balls with optimal exit velocity and launch angle (typically homers/extra-base hits). He produced 106 barrels, breaking his own record for a single season under Statcast tracking (since 2015) by 19 and finishing 28 ahead of the next-closest hitter, Yordan Alvarez.
He started more games in center than in right in 2022
After making just 24 appearances (22 starts) in center field over his first six seasons, Judge found himself patrolling center far more often in 2022. In fact, he started 74 games there, compared to 54 in right field. Despite his large frame, Judge held his own as a center fielder, recording 2 defensive runs saved and 1 out above average.
He’s been making history since Day 1
Judge didn’t take long to announce his presence in his big league debut on Aug. 13, 2016, hitting a home run in his first trip to the plate. His homer immediately followed a Tyler Austin dinger in his first at-bat, making Judge and Austin the first teammates to hit home runs in their first Major League at-bats in the same game.
Although Judge largely struggled in his first taste of Major League action, finishing 2016 with a .179 average and a 44.2% strikeout rate over 27 games, he had one of history’s greatest rookie seasons the next year. Setting a then-rookie record with 52 homers, Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year Award unanimously and placed second in the AL MVP race behind Jose Altuve.