Big Ben Tuesday: All Rise! Making the Case for NOT Giving Aaron Judge a Long-Term Deal

Stamford, CT: Just like that, the days of flipping between NBA and NHL playoffs, and over to the two best baseball teams in the league, are over. It’s time to turn our full attention to baseball. And after his two walk-offs in the series against Houston, all local sports eyes seem to be on Aaron Judge, and how many truckloads of cash he’s going to get if he keeps up this torrid pace. The Yankees avoided arbitration with their hulking slugger because they didn’t want to get in front of an arbitrator and nitpick their best player’s game. Well, he sure eats a lot at team buffets. Wise move. Well, luckily, I love nitpicking and getting bogged down in pointless, unwinnable arguments. So I thought I’d give it a shot. Let’s see if I can come up with reasons why they shouldn’t sign him to a long term, big money deal. (But don’t get me wrong, I think they should and will pay him.)

Injuries

Your honor, if the Yankees or other teams do decide not to give him a long term deal, this would be the reason. Even though Junoir is not jealous of his musclebound physique, he is jacked. And like many big, strapping outfielders, he has gotten hurt quite a bit. This would include multiple oblique strains, shoulder surgery, a wrist fracture, a collapsed lung/rib issue, and a calf strain. He’s also missed games for general soreness and other mysterious reasons. This is a guy whose ABs (as in at-bats, not stomach muscles) need to be managed, and that seems more likely if he keeps playing centerfield.

The numbers don’t lie. Mr. Judge has only cracked 500 ABs in two of his five full seasons. (This is not counting 2020, but he would have missed a big chunk of that season had it started on time.)  Those two seasons, 2021 when he played in 148 games, and 2017 when he played in 155, were the only ones you could consider “full” seasons. 2018 was the only other season he cracked 400 ABs with 412 in 112 games.

Your honor, this is not a record of durability.

RBIs

Or should I say “lack of” RBIs, if it pleases the court. The plaintiff has only driven in 100 runs once, in 2017, when Altuve stole his MVP. He came close last year with 98, but the next best was 67. Part of this can be attributed to the Yankees confusing insistence on hitting him second or first, but it can’t be denied that the man hits a lot of solo home runs. According to the MtM Research Department, his percentage of HRs that are of the solo variety is “probably pretty high.” Thanks guys!

Over his career, Mr. Judge has averaged one RBI about every 5.5 ABS. By comparison, Pete Alonso drives in one about every 5.2 ABs.  Teammate Giancarlo Stanton averages one about every 5.4 ABs. Hey, I told you I was straight nitpicking cherries. I demand a mistrial! But even in a year when the plaintiff is supposed to be the runaway MVP to this point, he’s only tied for fourth in RBIs.

In summation, ipso facto, the man has not exactly been an RBI machine. 

Age and Length of Commitment

I know 30 is not exactly old by baseball standards, but rookies generally hit free agency a bit sooner. As Mr. Judge came into the league at 24 years old and players are usually under control for six years after breaking in, Mr. Judge is hitting free agency outside of his 20s. That’s probably part of the reason he’s looking to maximize his contract. He wants to take care of his people for a long time to come and this is his chance.

He turned down an eight year offer from the Yankees before the season and seems unlikely to take a deal shorter than that. If you sign him for that long, you’re committing to him through the 2030 season when he’ll be 38. Mr. Judge is likely to stay in shape and the contract wouldn’t have a Pujols-esque lack of value on the back end, but he’s sure to miss some games over that span. And teams’ Egghead Departments are now using algorithms to calculate how fast a guy’s skills will deteriorate and how long he will stay productive. The goal is to not have too much dead wood at the end. As precedent, the court needs to look no further than the case of 2021-22 case of Freddie Freeman vs the Atlanta Braves. This guy was a fan favorite who led his team to a title, it was a slam dunk he’d be back until the eggheads stepped in. But the Dodgers can’t sign everyone… Can they?

You’re honor, I submit that is a long commitment for a guy already into his 30s with durability concerns. 

In Summation

I rest my case, I guess. We recognize the plaintiff’s case is strong, Judge is a likeable mountain of a man who sells tons of jerseys and puts asses in the stands. But he wouldn’t be the first guy to save his most monstrous stats for a contract year and the injuries are a real concern.

Judge Trivia

Aaron Judge was adopted the day after he was born on April 26, 1992 just a few days before the LA riots. April 29, 1992. There was a riot on the streets tell me where were you?

We know Angry Ward was participatin’ in some anarchy, and he’ll be here tomorrow. Follow us on Twitter at @BenWhit8, @MeetTheMatts, @Matt_McCarthy00, Instagram @MeetTheMatts and like our Facebook page, Meet The Matts.

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About Ben Whitney 319 Articles
Ben Whitney comes from journalistic stock. Aside from his brothers, rumor has that his great-great grandfather was the youngest brother of Eli Whitney and covered the earliest "rounders" games. Big Ben is also another New York Rugby Club player/pal of Different Matt, Short Matt and Junoir Blaber. He likes film noir discussions, has twin girls and took up ice hockey after retiring from rugby.