“Last year I feel like he became a different guy on the basepaths” – Yankees manager Aaron Boone believes Aaron Judge improved the most in 2022 in one unexpected area
Aaron Judge improved a lot in 2022 en route to a near-unanimous MVP award. According to New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone, smashing the record for home runs that stood for 61 years was not evidence of where Judge improved the most, though.
Boone believes the power stroke was always there. It arguably was, as Judge broke into the MLB with a home run in his first at-bat and knocked a then-record 52 in his rookie season.
Boone said, per NJ.com:
“Last year I feel like he became a different guy on the basepaths. Yeah, he stole some bases, but his baserunning overall was much better. He moved the needle in a huge way in that regard.”
The Yankees’ baserunning as a whole was significantly better last year than it was in 2021. That was a big reason why they won 99 games and made the ALCS.
Despite being significantly larger than most of his counterparts, Baseball Savant had Judge with a 27.3 feet per second sprint — ninth on the Yankees and right at the MLB average of 27.
Per Fangraphs’ BsR metric (which stands for baserunning), Judge was a 2.1. That was second on the Yankees behind Aaron Hicks’ 2.5. Hicks is faster and played less, so it can be argued that the best baserunner might have been Judge.
Aaron Judge also stole 16 bases and was caught just three times. That total was second on the team behind Isaiah Kiner-Falefa’s (another faster player) total of 22.
Can Aaron Judge improve even further in 2023?
As Aaron Boone said:
“I don’t know what numbers he has in mind (for 2023) or what his personal expectations are, but I know it’s greatness. He’s not going to settle for what was a historically great season last year.”
It will, however, be hard to top Aaron Judge’s 2022 season. He recorded 11.4 fWAR and 62 home runs. Those numbers alone, as well as the .311 batting average and 131 RBI, will be difficult to replicate.
Projections believe he’s in for another excellent year — 7.3 fWAR. It’s not as good as it was in 2022, but expecting him to be that good again might be foolish.
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