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Is Aaron Judge the Next Mike Trout?

Yankees Right Fielder Holds Court in the Bronx

Maggie Ford, Sports Editor

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This outfielder is the pride of his franchise’s farm system. He can cover ground in the blink of an eye to snag a fly ball that seemed impossible to catch. He can use his cannon of an arm to throw out an unwary base runner. An equal menace at the plate, he drives home runs the way some drink coffee (almost daily, and with visible relaxation). Coaches praise him, teammates admire him, and fans will pay an exorbitant amount of money for one of his jerseys.

No, this is not Mike Trout. Welcome to the charmed life of Aaron Judge.

Aaron Judge is the rookie right fielder of the New York Yankees, and is making quite a splash in the Bronx. Judge is leading all rookies with 18 home runs during the 2017 season. He also happens to be leading the major leagues with this mark. The accolades are starting to add up as well: he has been lauded for his powerful swing and quick glove, and was named American League Rookie of the Month for the second month straight on Monday.

At 6 feet and 7 inches tall, Judge cuts an imposing figure. It is no wonder he can generate so much power off his swing, consistently driving balls into the second deck, 350, 400, 450 feet from home plate. The greater surprise was Judge’s ease of movement in the field and on the base paths. Logic would have it that such a tall man might move in an ungainly fashion. His respectable 5 stolen bases speak to the opposite. Between his swing and his success, Judge has quickly risen in popularity in New York, with his jersey sales skyrocketing every day, and a new section in Yankee Stadium named “The Judge’s Chambers.”

If this sounds at all familiar, it is likely because the buzz around Aaron Judge is nearly identical to that surrounding Mike Trout in his rookie year. Trout is the starting center fielder for the Los Angeles Angels, and is now widely considered the best player in baseball. When he first broke onto the scene in 2012, he set career-high tallies in runs (129),  and stolen bases (49), and hit 30 home runs. He won just about every possible award – Rookie of the Year, Most Valuable Player, Silver Slugger – and was named an All-Star. His jersey was seen on fans everywhere, his name was chanted at games, he was, in short, the man.

When comparing Trout’s rookie stats to Judge’s there are going to be some differences that indicate the each player’s strengths, and also that the 2017 season is not yet halfway done. At the end of his rookie season, Trout had 30 home runs. A fraction of the way into the season, Judge has 18. If he doubles his output from the first half of the season in the second, Judge will have 6 more home runs than Trout. Based on the frequency of his home runs, he is projected to hit more than that. While Trout finished his rookie season with 49 stolen bases, Judge currently has 5. Trout’s speed game is very strong, and Judge, while a quick runner, would be hard-pressed to match Trout’s rookie numbers there.

Based on rookie statistics, Aaron Judge and Mike Trout seem to be on the same level of skill and power. However, when these two players are compared in 2017, Judge makes a strong case for the better of the two players, at least in batting. Judge has two more home runs than Trout’s 16, and has more hits and RBIs.

Only time will tell if Judge can stay on par with Trout’s success, and maybe surpass him. After all, good, even excellent, rookie seasons don’t necessarily correspond to a successful career. But if the way Judge is playing now is any indication of his future self, Mike Trout had better cherish his time as MVP now…because there’s a new slugger on the block.

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Is Aaron Judge the Next Mike Trout?