Aaron Judge came into the 2022 season as one of the premier hitters in the game, a three-time All-Star, former Rookie of the Year, with multiple top-5 MVP finishes. The Yankees’ superstar was firmly established in the upper echelon of the sport.
With all of that in mind, it speaks volumes that no matter how one chooses to look at it, Judge’s performance in 2022 completely blows even the most absurd of high expectations that anyone could’ve had for him out of the water.
It is the type of campaign that goes down in history. This level of play is special, even in the context of Hall of Fame careers. There is no such thing as a modern career with an OPS+ above 200; it simply does not happen in this day and age. A single year at that level is a special thing, even for the elite of the elite. Among active hitters, only Bryce Harper and Mike Trout have topped out at 198, in very special seasons.
Ultimately, we could be here for days spitting out different stats to state the nonpareil greatness of Aaron Judge, but there’s a specific point to focus on — especially as he has remained scorching hot, but without the home runs in the past few days.
With a 3-for-4 afternoon on Saturday, Aaron Judge became the first Yankee since Mickey Mantle in 1957 to reach base three or more times per game over a seven-game span. Interestingly enough, that’s also the last season in which a Yankee had an OPS+ above 200.
This recent run has allowed Judge the opportunity to at least dream of a Triple Crown, most recently captured by Miguel Cabrera in 2012, which was the only such win in the past 54 years. That frankly would be more of an icing on the cake, rather than any sort of validation of his season or anything like that.
As of right now, Judge has a .307 batting average that sits fourth in the American League behind:
- SS - Xander Bogaerts: .318
- 2B - Luis Arraez: .316
- 1B - José Abreu: .309
As for the other two categories of the classic Triple Crown, Judge has a firm grip on them, leading in homers with 55, a whopping 21 more than second-place Mike Trout (yes, even in just 99 games), and his 120 RBI also lead the world. José Ramírez is second with 109.
Ultimately, it is still rather unlikely that Judge will surpass those three hitters in batting average, but perhaps a more analytical look can acknowledge Judge as the winner of the modern Triple Crown.
The Yankees’ superstar may not lead the AL on average, but as of right now, he leads the league in OBP with a .412 mark, and is likely to hold that No. 1 spot through the end of the year. Judge is easily the most dangerous hitter in baseball this year, and his 342 total bases lead the world. The simple fact is that he does more damage than anyone else, while also reaching base more than anybody else.
Winning the traditional Triple Crown would be the cherry on top, but honestly, looking at his level of play, it’s primarily a matter of semantics more than anything else.
It does not matter that Judge’s No. 1 OBP has a big part to do with his high walk rate and that there are a handful of hitters or so with more total hits than him, not when Judge’s hits amount to more damage in every imaginable way, whether it’d be runs scored, runs driven in or ISO.
For the purposes of context, combining runs scored and RBI, Judge has a total of 232 on the year. The second closest is Bo Bichette with 164. These might be team-dependent stats, but it’s impressive to chronicle regardless.