Now, before I have a bunch of butt-hurt Yankees fans on my case, let me say I’m not saying Judge is bad. He is still an All-Star caliber player, but he is certainly not the best (or most valuable) player in the league.
Let’s start with what should be the most obvious reason. Aaron Judge plays in the most hitter-friendly stadium in the league. With only 318 ft. down the line to left field and 314 ft. down the line to right, the 6’ 7” giant can hit a shallow pop up that may just get out of Yankee Stadium. Compared to another famous stadium like Wrigley field, which has a distance of 355 ft. down both the left and right field lines. About 30 feet separate the two fields down the line. Seems like a pretty big difference.
Well Judge plays in both home and away games, so the numbers can’t be that skewed, right? Taking a look into his 2017 home/road splits, it is a huge difference. At Yankee Stadium, Judge currently has 21 HRs, 42 RBI and is batting a whopping .377. On the road however, that number drops to 9 HRs, 24 RBI and only a .250 batting average. At home, Judge is an absolute beast, but on the road he becomes a very average player.
Take a look at most Yankee players, and they have similar splits. Even recent Yankee greats like Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter post much better numbers at home. The reason why they are still considered great is because they posted great numbers on the road as well.
Everyone hits better at home, right? Well, Take a look at last years MVP Mike Trout. At home, in a very average MLB stadium, Trout hit 14 HRs, recorded 43 RBI and hit .330. On the road, Trout actually had more home runs, hitting 15 while bringing in a whopping 57 RBI. He also posted a +.300 batting average on the road. This is what a real MVP looks like.
There is a reason why most hitters come to New York and have some sort of revival in their careers. Starlin Castro, picked up by the Yankees last year is an 8 year veteran in the league. In 2016, his first year in New York, he recorded career highs in home runs and RBIs. He was also voted as an All-Star this year, and once again has put up big numbers.
Yankee Stadium could also explain why Mark Teixeira was able to hit 31 home runs in 111 games at 35 years old. Or how Matt Holiday, who just joined New York this year, is on pace to hit more home runs this year than he has since his All-Star 2010 season. How else could you explain Nick Swisher averaging well over 20 Home runs in New York and his numbers dramatically dropping as soon as he left for another team. A year removed from New York, Swisher hit only 8 home runs the following season after not going a single season in a Yankee uniform with less than 23.
In order for me to believe Judge is even a respectable option for MVP, he needs to hit better on the road. His home field advantage has helped him more than anyone in the league and it is crazy to see so many people missing this factor.
Judge has almost doubled his slugging percentage in home games compared to away games. He posts an .834 SLG % with a 1.324 OPS at home, while posting only a .485 SLG % with a .867 OPS on the road. Even with playing more games and getting more at-bats on the road, Judge still posts much higher numbers at home.
It may be time to stray away from the idea Aaron Judge is the saving face of Major League Baseball. Since the All-Star break, Judge is 1 for his last 21, with all of his at-bats being on the road. Maybe it’s time fans are starting to figure out he is a product of his environment. He’s not an MVP by any standard, and the fact baseball writers are already giving him a lock for the award is shocking.