clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Aaron Judge’s chase for a 200 wRC+ season

Putting up a 200 wRC+ over a full season has rarely been done, if Judge can do it, he’d be joining an exclusive club.

MLB: New York Mets at New York Yankees Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

As it stands now, Aaron Judge has a 196 wRC+ on the season. That’s a number we really don’t see often, and it only adds to the history we’ve had the privilege of watching over the course of the campaign. His 196 mark is the best in all of baseball, five points better than the next-best in Paul Goldschmidt, and 14 more than than second in the American League, Yordan Alvarez. The 196 figure is already an incredible feat, but we as baseball fans love a good round number, and his chase for a 200 wRC+ is as impressive as his home run count or any other of his historic chases.

For context — although many readers of this site are likely familiar — wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) is probably the best overall hitting stat, adjusting for league environment and ballpark, and put on a scale with 100 being average. Each point above or below 100 is a percentage point better or worse that any given hitter is compared to league average. So, a 200 wRC+ is effectively 100 percent better than league average. That’s as impressive as it sounds, and it’s only been done 33 times over the course of a season in MLB history (including one before the turn of the 20th century, and a few in shortened seasons).

If Judge can reach this mark, he would be the first to do so since, of course, Barry Bonds in 2004 (the last of four consecutive seasons doing it). The impressive lists on which this would land Judge, if he finishes at 200 or better, does not stop there.

Judge would be just the sixth right-handed batter to accomplish the feat, joining Mark McGwire, Frank Thomas, Jeff Bagwell, Rogers Hornsby, and Fred Dunlap (1884). He would also be the fourth Yankee to reach that mark, lining up with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Mickey Mantle, solid members of most fans’ pinstripe Mount Rushmore.

New York Yankees Photo by MPI/Getty Images

Judge also stands to be the third player with a 200 wRC+ in the Wild Card era (Bonds and McGwire), and just the fifth since they lowered the mound, depending on how you count shortened seasons. This is worth mentioning, as this feat has been accomplished recently in seasons that were cut short for various reasons. Juan Soto had a 202 wRC+ in 2020, which of course was only a 60-game season, in which Soto only played 47. And in the strike-shortened 1994 season, Bagwell and Thomas both put up 205 marks in 110 and 113 games, respectively. These seasons were obviously incredible and shouldn’t be ignored, especially since the length was out of their control, but it becomes more and more difficult as the season gets longer.

It is no secret that Judge is having a historic run this year, as we witness one of the best offensive seasons of this century, and of all time. If he reaches that elusive 200 mark, he’d be joining the elite of the elite, not only in Yankees history, but in the history of baseball as a whole. Being on short lists with Ruth, Gehrig, Bonds, and Ted Williams is about as good as it gets.

Even if he doesn’t quite reach that level, the historical greatness of his performance isn’t depleted all that much. After all, with his current 196 mark, he would need to improve on what he’s already done. That is a lot to ask for, but we have often seen that Judge can get hot with the best of ‘em. If he just maintains the production he’s had, it would still be the seventh-best offensive season of the last quarter century (excluding Soto), and top-15 in Yankees history (and the old history is its own conversation).

Aaron Judge has been the best player in baseball this season, and it has been a joy to watch. He has been historically great, and has put himself in great position to put himself on some of the most elite lists. Whether he gets to 62 home runs, to a 200 wRC+, or whatever else, his performance this year will pop up near the top of leaderboards for a long, long time.