The New York Yankees and reigning AL MVP Aaron Judge agreed to terms on a nine-year, $360 million deal Wednesday morning. There's fallout all over the place, but one aspect -- a strong one -- is the likelihood that Judge will end up being a career Yankee. In this day and age, that's pretty rare. Given that Judge just set the single-season team record for home runs with 62, we can't help but let our minds wander down the road of other Yankees career leaderboards he could climb.
Then again, this is the most storied franchise in MLB history and one of the most in all of sports. The leaderboards are kind of ridiculous.
Let's check it out anyway. Judge has nine more years with the Yankees. The odds are overwhelmingly in favor of 2022 being his career year, but he still has a good chance to be very productive for a portion of the contract. We'll look at some of the all-time Yankees leaderboards to figure he might end up, all the while keeping in mind Judge's chances to go down as a Yankees legend. It's a much higher bar here than with other franchises, but it's still possible.
To be clear, these are Yankees-only records and we'll only look at counting stats for today, since we're talking about impact over a long period of time. Off we go.
As noted, Judge currently has the Yankees (and AL) records with 62 homers in a single season. With 220 career home runs, however, he has a long way to go to get to the top.
1. Babe Ruth, 659
2. Mickey Mantle, 536
3. Lou Gehrig, 493
4. Joe DiMaggio, 361
5. Yogi Berra, 358
Judge should be able to crack the top four here. Even if he only averaged 16 home runs per season through the life of this contract, he'd end up with 364. The race to Gehrig and then 500 could get interesting. It'll be top heavy -- the expectation is he'll hit a lot more early in the contract than late -- but Judge needs to average a touch over 31 home runs per season to get to 500.
In order to top Ruth? Judge would have to average 48.89 home runs per season to get to 660. Take the under.
After driving home an MLB-best 131 in 2022, Judge now has 497 RBI in his career. He's not even close to the top 10 in franchise history just yet, as Don Mattingly's 1,099 sit 10th in Yankees history. The top five:
1. Gehrig, 1,995
2. Ruth, 1,978
3. DiMaggio, 1,537
4. Mantle, 1,509
5. Berra, 1,430
Judge would have to average about 74 RBI per season just to top Mattingly and crack the top 10. Can he average 103.67 a year? That's an average per season over the next nine and that's what it would take to get to Berra. For those curious and looking for a laugh, Judge would have to average 166.44 RBI per season to tie Gehrig through the end of this contract.
Judge has twice led the AL in runs, including his MLB-best 133 last season. He has 535 in his career. Maybe this will be more realistic?
1. Ruth, 1,959
2. Derek Jeter, 1,923
3. Gehrig, 1,888
4. Mantle, 1,676
5. DiMaggio, 1,390
Judge would have to average exactly 95 runs per season over the next nine to tie DiMaggio. I suppose it's workable, especially if he has some more 130-plus seasons. A-Rod sits 10th in Yankees history with 1,012 runs and Judge only needs to average 53 per year to get there. He will make the top 10 here. Somewhere between sixth (Bernie Williams, 1,366) and seventh (Earle Combs, 1,186) seems like a good bet.
Fresh off a career high 177 hits, Judge still only has 748 in his career. The franchise leader is Jeter with 3,465. Eight players collected 2,000 hits with the Yankees and Berra is eighth with 2,148. Judge would need more than 155 per season to get there. He's averaging 166 for every 162 games right now, so we probably don't need to dive much further here. It's possible he moves into the top 10 (Combs is 10th with 1,866), but simply looking at hits isn't where Judge's value lies.
This is more like it. Judge led the majors with 391 total bases last season. That tied him for the 45th most in a season in history with 1924 Babe Ruth. Judge has 1,537 total bases in his career to this point.
1. Ruth, 5,131
2. Gehrig, 5,060
3. Jeter, 4,921
4. Mantle, 4,511
5. DiMaggio, 3,948
Judge needs to average about 268 total bases per season to pass DiMaggio and move into the top five. He'd need to average 330.5 to pass Mantle and exactly 376 to get to Jeter. So far in his career, he's averaged 342 total bases per 162 games. It seems like a good chance that Judge can get to fifth and challenge Mantle for fourth in total bases in Yankees history. That's no small feat.
After 111 walks to lead the AL last season, Judge has 472 in his career. Only six players have ever drawn 1,000 walks in a Yankees uniform.
1. Ruth, 1,852
2. Mantle, 1,733
3. Gehrig, 1,508
4. Jeter, 1,082
5. Williams, 1,069
6. Willie Randolph, 1,005
Judge would only need to average 68 free passes per year to get past Jeter and into fourth place. That'll happen. Surely he wouldn't average more than 115.11 per season, which is what he'd need to pass Gehrig. Expect Judge to finish fourth.
WAR (position players)
The 10.6 WAR Judge posted in 2022 was one of the higher marks in Yankees history and moved him to 37.0 for his career. Here are the top 10 all-time for the Yankees:
- Ruth, 143.4
- Gehrig, 113.6
- Mantle, 110.2
- DiMaggio, 79.2
- Jeter, 71.3
- Berra, 59.6
- Bill Dickey, 56.4
- Randolph, 54.1
- A-Rod, 54
- Williams, 49.6
This means Judge is only 12.6 -- or two good seasons -- away from Bernie. Averaging just 2.51 WAR over the life of this contract gets Judge to Berra. An average of 3.81 a year gets him to Jeter and he's 4.69 per season away from DiMaggio. How about Mantle? No dice on this one. Judge would need to average 8.13 WAR per season over the next nine to get to Mickey.
For those unfamiliar, a rough guideline of WAR is that 0 is a replacement-level player (anyone could be plucked from Triple-A and perform at this level), 2.0 is a normal "everyday" player, 5ish is an All-Star and 8+ is an MVP-caliber player per season.
Also, players can go backward. From 2017-21, for example, Albert Pujols posted -1.8 WAR to dip him back under 100 for his career (he went back over the century mark thanks to a good 2022). This isn't to compare Pujols and Judge at all; it's simply an illustration of how things could go backward, unlike any stat listed above.
A decent bet here would be Judge settling in the ballpark of Jeter and DiMaggio. He'd have to be a part of several World Series champions to approach those two in Yankees lore, but to even be mentioned in the same breath as the two in career performance for this franchise shows the potential and why the Yankees ponied up such a huge contract for Judge.