A Harsh “Judge” – Ment?

Aaron Not Worth His Demands?

The Issue.   As it is easy for mere mortals such as yours truly — and I suspect also with many readers — to get lost in the Zeros, please understand that any number in this article preceded by “$” is stated in millions of dollars.   Both NY Yankee management and All-Star caliber outfielder Aaron Judge devoted a good portion of off-season months in pursuit of a contract extension.  An Opening Day line in the sand was drawn by Judge, who enters 2022 as his option year.  Each side repeatedly expressed hope that Judge would be a Yankee for his entire playing career.  Unfortunately the deadline came and went without ink on a new contract extension.  Battle lines were set as follows:

  • A Yankee proposal of seven years at $30.5 each, a franchise record for highest annual salary for a position player.  Including 2022, for which Judge is already signed, the entire package comes to eight years and $233;       
  • Working through his agent Page Odle Judge countered with a 10 year demand at $36 per, in line with terms agreed to by the Anaheim Angels and Mike Trout, a 10 year extension signed in March 2019, still the largest cash outpour in Major League history.

Is He Worth It?    Does Judge merit a Mike Trout contract?  My belief is NO, derived from the following comparisons.  As Judge now enters his 7th season with the Yankees and Trout his 12th with the Angels, summarized below for each player are career regular season averages computed as a measure of how they would play out over a 162 game schedule. The data are headed respectively by:  Number of At Bats (AB) — Batting Average (BA) — On-Base Percentage (OBP) — Runs Driven In (RBI) —Slugging (SLG) — Strike Outs (SO) — Intentional Bases on Balls (IBB) — Wins Above Replacement (WAR).  This latter measure is the creation of Sean Smith of www.BaseballProjection.com and it derives from an amalgam of player statistics intending to measure the number of Wins over and above what a replacement player from AAA ball would have produced.  Any reading above 5+ is considered All-Star caliber, with 8+ the rarefied atmosphere of League’s Most Valuable.  Included for each is production from the dozen or so games played so far in 2022. 


Judge 586 .276 .385 102 .551 207 6 7.3

Trout 585 .305 .419 102 .583 153 14 9.6



      – while remarkably similar in some categories, Trout holds a meaningful edge in Batting Average, On  Base Percentage and Strikeouts (i.e., far fewer);

      – Judge’s fine all around WAR is heavily skewed by his early seasons, in particular the 8.0 racked up in his Rookie of the Year 2018 campaign.  Trout owns a more stable year-to-year pattern; 

    –  each man is now 30 years of age. Trout — who launched with the Angels as a 19 year old rookie in 2011 — will reach 31 this coming August.  The Halos may yet rue the length of years remaining on his contract, as injuries and down time have recently surfaced.  A model of consistency in game appearances in all prior campaigns, Trout could manage only 36 showings last Season, checked by a season ending calf injury which took its time healing.  He has sat out recent games after being plucked on a hand by a pitched ball.  An MRI confirmed no fracture, and hopes in the Angel dugout are that he will return to the lineup on Friday April 22;

    – injuries and down time have stamped Judge’s Yankee years as much as have his occasional monumental home runs.  Only in 2017 and 2021 has he appeared in more than 140 games.  He sat out half of the Covid shortened 2020 campaign, and was on the field for only 102 outings in 2019.  Yankee ownership will doubtless keep this downside potential firmly in mind when contract negotiations resume;

    – not shown in the table are Wins Above Replacement from Defense.  Here judge is a runaway leader, blending speed, a strong and accurate throwing arm (baserunners seldom challenge him any more), and flexibility with his play in Center Field of the caliber on display at his more customary Right Field station.  Trout, meanwhile, has steadily deteriorated in the field.  It has become especially evident in arm strength, as the exit velocity on throws to the infield in pursuit of an opposing base runner places him  50th among 60 outfielders in the sample.               

Conclusion.  Neither player will be worth his salary if injuries and shelf time persist.  Even excluding those unpleasant considerations, and even incorporating his defensive superiority into the balance, Aaron Judge’s record lies below the pedestal carved over the years by Mike Trout.


  • Roger McNamara

    Born and raised mostly in Cleveland, OH. Spent 3 years overseas duty in Military Intelligence. Lived in New York City for 12 years, where our 3 children were born. A lifelong fan and rooter for: New York Yankees; Cleveland Browns; Boston Celtics; Montreal Canadiens; The Ohio State University. More recently acquired an interest in UConn Lady Husky basketball. Now age 76 and retired --- except for writing articles for MentalDimes --- in the Pacific Northwest.

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