He didn’t get anything going against the Orioles in a three-game series near the end of the year, but Aaron Judge has hammered Baltimore pitching so much over the years that if he leaves the Yankees, no one in Birdland will shed a tear.
Elation might be the prevailing emotion.
Before Birdland gets too excited about that prospect, for one, Judge might not leave. For two, the Nationals won the World Series the year after Bryce Harper left via free agency. The Astros, who once had George Springer, Carlos Correa and Gerrit Cole on their team, are in another World Series without that trio.
It’s still a team game. Stars are important, but good teams can win even as great players move on.
But seeing Judge, a free agent, sign with a National League team, would be welcoming news in Birdland. In the next-to-last series of the 2022 regular season, with Judge trying to hit his 62nd homer to set an AL record, the Orioles pitched Judge tough, and he went 1-for-7 with five walks and six strikeouts in the series. Amid much whining from New York fans and media that they dared to not throw him a meatball.
It had to be jarring I guess, to see Judge not crush the Birds. During this season, over 18 games he batted .369 with four doubles, nine homers and 19 RBIs against the Orioles with an OPS of 1.314. The nine homers were his most versus any team this year with his seven (in six games) against Kansas City next and six in 18 games versus Tampa Bay third best.
Other AL East teams fared better versus Judge. He had an OPS of .987 against Boston, .961 versus Tampa Bay and .830 against Toronto.
In seven games in the regular season, Judge had an OPS of .629 versus Houston. And then he went 1-for-16 with no homers against them in the AL Championship Series.
That won’t keep Judge from cashing big soon. Before opening day he turned down an eight-year deal worth $230.5 million from New York. Now he figures to get over $300 million from a team. The Yankees are still considered a heavy favorite to keep Judge. But what if he does leave, where would he go?
Per the online site SportsBetting.ag, here are their listed odds of other teams that could sign Judge this offseason:
San Francisco Giants 2-1
New York Mets 3-1
Los Angeles Dodgers 4-1
Houston Astros 6-1
Texas Rangers 8-1
Boston Red Sox 8-1
Toronto Blue Jays 10-1
Chicago White Sox 10-1
Philadelphia Phillies 13-1
In 157 games this year, Judge hit .311/.425/.686/1.111 with 62 homers and 131 RBIs. While he led the AL in homers and RBIs, he finished second for the batting title to Minnesota’s Luis Arraez, who hit .316. That close to producing just the second Triple Crown winner in baseball since 1967.
It would be a stunner to see Judge playing for anyone other than the Yankees next year. But Mookie Betts is no longer a Red Sox, Harper no longer a National and Correa no longer an Astro.
The WBC factor: The Orioles spring training will be at least challenged, some might be harsh to say disrupted, a bit by the World Baseball Classic which returns next year. There are, so far, four Orioles scheduled to play in the WBC that runs from March 8 through March 21 next spring.
Cedric Mullins and Dillon Tate will play for Team USA, Anthony Santander for Venezuela and Dean Kremer will pitch for Team Israel.
Many teams, of course, will be impacted by the WBC, not just the Orioles, losing players for periods of time from their spring camps. And yes, these players will have to be ready sooner for games that will certainly be at a much higher level of competition than a spring training game.
The WBC could also produce an Oriole against an Oriole in the event as in 2017 when Adam Jones made an amazing catch to rob Manny Machado when Team USA met the Dominican Republic squad.