It’s hard to quantify Aaron Judge. He’s listed at 6’7, 275 but in full disclosure he looks like he ate a linebacker because his lunch wasn’t enough. He’s taller than Adam Dunn and larger than Frank Thomas.
And that’s not Mo Vaughn girth, it’s muscle. The kind of muscle the Giants need to draft to pressure opposing quarterbacks next season, not the kind of size and strength you expect to man right field for the Yankees for the next decade or two.
Judge is a terrifying figure, one we haven’t really seen commit to and stay on a major league diamond very often.
And part of that is horrifying in itself because surely there’s a reason, but part of it is mystifying in that the Yankees may have found a Lebron James type for the sport of baseball. A player who pretty clearly could have and probably should have done something else, but stayed. And now we get to see what it’s like for a Football player to hit a baseball for the rest of his working life.
So who can we compare Judge to? Who is within his height so we can see if pitch selection can happen for someone who is around 6’7″ and who is around his listed weight of 275 LBS so we can see if that body can really maintain a position long-term? After cross referencing with minor league numbers, there are two players who had intriguing cases or get comparisons often anyway, and who Yankees’ fans would probably be OK with their top prospect panning out to become, assuming he stays healthy.
So let’s preface this by stating, these two players are the upside. Judge could be like a failed lab experiment who eventually never sees the light of day because he couldn’t distinguish a curveball in the dirt from a fastball down the middle. But if he does pan out reasonably well (which means a big year at AAA and not to expect a Dunn or Thomas, both of whom were significantly better in the minors), this is what you could expect:
Richie Sexson– The less successful comparison but the one closer in minor league stats. He’s still a guy who hit over 300 home runs in his major league career. Sexson played 12 seasons, averaging roughly 25 home runs per year (hitting 45 in a season twice) and who hit a career .261/.344/.851 with over 100 strikeouts per year. Not bad, right? I think if you could let Judge’s career play out normally or sign up for .260/.340 with 25 home runs for 12 years you’d probably choose the latter.
Sexson isn’t close to Judge in terms of size, he’s listed about 70 lbs lighter if that’s any indication, but he is a guy who was 6’6″ and made it work. For the record, Sexson had over 1500 at bats through AA and hit 68 home runs with a batting line somewhere around .275/.340 before reaching AAA where he hit .297/.386 with 21 HR in 402 ABs. Not the same career arc since Sexson actually did his best work in AAA but Judge in 900+ AB through AA essentially hit 29 HR with a line closer to .290/.380 before his .224/.308 melt down in 228 ABs in AAA at the same age. Sexson may not be the same size, but he started hitting home runs at a slugger’s rate sooner and these two could have similar careers when all is said and done.
Giancarlo Stanton– A lot of Yankees fans want to make this prediction and it’s not really a fair one to Judge. Though, as a second round pick, he was closer to Judge’s first round status and Stanton is 6’6″, 240 LBS which puts him closer in size than Sexson, Stanton was pretty much always the better prospect.
Stanton never played in AAA and hit 89 HR through AA in just over 1300 AB but interestingly hit .263/.365 in AA in 581 ABs, which isn’t far off from Judge’s .384/.350 in 250 AB. The difference? Stanton had already established himself as a prolific home run hitter whereas despite having similar power, Judge’s best attributes have been Stanton’s secondary contributions. Same size and position, so it is possible to be that large and play the outfield, but different hitters and different expectations if you’re being honest.