I have a feeling that Aaron Judge is going to end up being seriously overdrafted next year. I think people are going to look at his numbers on the season and I think they’re going to expect something similar, and I just don’t know that he’s going to do that. On Monday, Judge went 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, making for four home runs in two days and breaking Mark McGwire’s rookie home run record. There is no denying Judge’s power, not even a little bit. The guy is a monstrous human being and he absolutely crushes the ball. Those 50 home runs he’s hit this year, that’s all completely legit and I think 40+ home runs every season is basically in the bag for him going forward. But what I don’t think is legit, and what I think will lead to him being drafted higher than he should be is his .283 batting average. He’s just not a batting average kind of guy. If the season ended today (and it’s almost over), Judge would have the 10th most strikeouts in a single season in baseball history, one of only 10 hitters ever to break 200 strikeouts in a season. It wouldn’t shock me if he climbs a bit higher on that ranking over the next week, and someone who strikes out that much cannot maintain a batting average that high. So why does he have that high of a batting average? That’d be thanks to BABIP. The first half of the year was awesome for Judge, he slashed .329/.448/.691, it was ridiculous, but that came along with an equally-ridiculous .426 BABIP. Then, over the second half of the year so far, Judge has been slashing .221/.379/.527 with a .259 BABIP. I think the real Aaron Judge is somewhere in between those two halves, a .250-.260 hitter who is a lock for 40+ home runs, basically what everyone kind of hoped Chris Davis would be rather than the .200 hitter with 30 home runs he is right now. When you’re drafting Judge next year, don’t expect him to be Nelson Cruz, hitting for high power and a high average, don’t overdraft him.
Let’s take a look at some of the other performances from Monday:
Didi Gregorius (SS, NYY) – 3-5, 1 R, 2 RBI. I believe in Didi’s batting average, I think he can be a .280-.290 hitter consistently, but what I’m skeptical about is his power. He’s got 25 home runs on the year with a 12.5% HR/FB rate but just a 23.6% hard-hit rate. I can’t imagine that’s something that’s going to keep up next year, I’d expect a lot more modest power.
Josh Donaldson (3B, TOR) – 3-3, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI. This has been kind of a lost year for Donaldson but over the past month, he’s finally showed up, slashing .281/.396/.584 over the past month. I think a lot of Donaldson’s problems this year were due to injury and I think next year he’ll set things right. The power was still there this year, and I think it will be next year, but I think the average will rise a bit.
Addison Russell (SS, CHC) – 1-4, 2 R, 3 RBI. This wasn’t the year I wanted for Addison Russell. I thought that perhaps he might take a big step forward this year, and in some places he stayed the same, and in others he regressed (specifically in the power department). If you’re looking for positives, his hard hit rate was a career-high this year, so hopefully that indicates that the power will continue to develop. He’s still just 23, so hope springs eternal.
Mitch Haniger (OF, SEA) – 2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI. Haniger has been absolutely destroying the ball over the past month, slashing .354/.380/.635 in the month of September, but it’s important to remember that he’s got a .409 BABIP in the month as well. Hopefully you’ve been using him in your championships. As for next year, I honestly have no idea what to expect from him, because he’s been so up and down as his BABIP has fluctuated. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a little overdrafted based on his hot streaks.