Aaron Judge Continues to Lead MLB in Slugging and OPS
Beyond being the best hitter in baseball and quite likely the best all-around position player, too, Aaron Judge is that superstar rarity: a $360 million bargain. In the free-agent frenzy that was the 2022-23 winter, not all of the spending looks wise so far.
Trea Turner, a shortstop with a rare speed-power combo, received a $300 million deal, and he has an 84 OPS plus, which means he’s hitting at a below-average level. Carlos Correa ultimately signed back with his old Twins team for $200 million and six years after deals twice as long were scuttled with the Giants ($350M, 13 years) and Mets ($315M, 12 years) following issues found with his right foot and lower leg. Xander Bogaerts, a consistent offensive force with “the best bat-to-ball skills” of the free-agent shortstops received a $280 million, 11-year deal for the very determined Padres.
While those deals may ultimately work, Judge, who leads MLB with a .630 slugging percentage and 1.032 OPS, is in a completely different category. While his was the highest free-agent contract (at least until Shohei Ohtani signs this winter), it was an obvious underpayment. Beyond the marketing advantages Judge brings, his play should have put him in a totally different category than those other players.
Mark Vientos Needs More ABs
Daniel Vogelbach and Tommy Pham keep playing while Mark Vientos is on the Mets. Vogelbach is popular, he isn’t a bad hitter and he has a guaranteed contract. But Vientos might be a star and he should play.
Vientos tore up Triple-A Syracuse to the tune of a 1.104 OPS, he’s a real prospect (whether he’s quite held in that regard or not) and he should be playing every day because he has a chance to be great. He hasn’t done as well so far with the Mets as Syracuse (he has two hits in 14 at-bats), but he’s playing only sporadically, and usually only against lefties. He should be DHing every day against lefties and righties.
Boone’s Antics Just for Show
Aaron Boone was ejected a third time in 10 games. Boone, who was suspended for Friday night’s game against the Padres following his latest ejection, looks like a crazy man at times. This isn’t him. My guess is it’s all a show with a strategy in mind.
His tirades can tend toward the savage, but I suspect it’s all an act, not for fans, but for umpires who may be influenced. All his histrionics led to a change in Judge’s strike zone. Judge used to get the most wrong strike calls in baseball — almost all below the zone. He still gets some wrong strike calls, but not as many as before. Boone probably deserves an assist for that.