ASG Worthy? Aaron Judge
The Yankees will be sending 6 representatives to the 2022 Midsummer Classic. This week, we're going to see if each player is worthy to go.
The History of All-Star Selections/Voting:
Starting in 1933, outside of a few instances (1945 and 2020), the All-Star Game has been a yearly occurrence at about the halfway point during the MLB season. In the early years, the All-Star teams were quite small (18 players in 1933. 20 from 1934-1938, 25 from 1939-1981) and in recent years rules have been implemented that each MLB team must have at least one representative at the game. In 1982, the rosters were expanded to 30 active players then it moved to 32 in 2003, 33 in 2009, and has been at 34 since 2010.
Alongside roster changes and expansions, the league has also had many different solutions to how a player makes the All-Star team. In the first two years, the fans voted for the 18 starters- including the starting pitcher- while the rest of the roster was compiled by the manager. This changed from 1934-1946 where the full roster was selected by the manager of the team. In 1947 fans were allowed to vote again for the starting 8 (no pitchers)...which was then stopped after Cincinnati Reds fans "stuffed the ballot" in 1957. It then became a decision by the managers and MLB again through 1969. In 1970 fan voting came back for the starting 8, though from then until 2003, the managers solely selected the back-up players. In 2003 the players were also given a voice in the voting process for the non-starters. The final voting changes occurred from 2002 to 2018 where fans had a vote for the final player on the roster, and a new rule for 2022 (and going forward) where the commissioner of the MLB is allowed to make a "legacy selection" for the All-Star Game. (This year the selected legacy players are Albert Pujols and Miguel Cabrera.)
All-Star Flubs and Snubs:
Now, with a history that is nearly 90 years going and the many many changes to team sizes, selection processes, and even positions to vote/select for (the outfield used to be separated by specific position), there should be an expectation that there are some players who snuck their way onto the team and others who should've been slam-dunk choices.
Take 2015 for example. The Kansas City Royals rallied their troops and got shortstop Alcides Escobar elected as the starting shortstop for the All-Star Game. By that time in the season, Escobar was hitting to a respectable .290/.327/.372/.700 quadruple slash and as a glove-first player with a 98 OPS+ it was not seen as out of the picture. However, at that same point in the season Xander Bogaerts (who didn't make the team at all) was hitting to a .304/.338/.411/.750 quadruple slash. (To put it into perspective, that .050 difference in OPS is the same between 2022 Giancarlo Stanton and 2022 Eugenio Suarez.)
Also to that point, let's highlight 2022 All-Star Vladimir Guerrero Jr. and non-all-star Ty France. Vladito is hitting to a .266/.346/.483/.829 quadruple slash with 19 home runs and 54 RBI's while France is hitting to a .306/.379/.460/.840 quadruple slash with 10 home runs and 45 RBI's. Are they comparable? Yes. However, did fan voting for a Toronto Blue Jay help elevated Guerrero over a more deserving player? Also, yes.
All that being said, let's see if the 6 Yankees 2022 All-Star Game selections are worthwhile.
The 2022 Statistics of Aaron Judge:
The 2022 season has been royally kind to Aaron Judge. He's been having a year with stats akin to his should-have-been-an-MVP 2017 Rookie-of-the-Year season, of which doing so now is arguably more impressive with how league-wide offense has been down. At this point in the year, Aaron Judge is hitting to the following line: (Key: Leads MLB, Leads AL Outfielders)
.283/.361/.610 (.971 OPS/175 OPS+/169 wRC+), 30 Home Runs, 65 RBI's, 3.8 bWAR/4.3 fWAR
Across qualified American League outfielders (by Fangraphs), Aaron Judge has the:
6th best Batting Average (Andrew Benintendi leads at .317)
3rd best On-Base Percentage (Andrew Benintendi leads at .389)
1st in Slugging Percentage (Mike Trout is 2nd at .600)
1st in On-Base Plus Slugging (Mike Trout is 2nd at .967)
1st in OPS+ (Mike Trout is 2nd at 169)
1st in wRC+ (Mike Trout is 2nd at 168)
1st in Home Runs (Mike Trout is 2nd at 24)
1st in RBI's (Kyle Tucker is 2nd at 59)
(Note: Rankings don't count Yordan Alvarez, who has played more DH- 41 games- than outfield- 33 games- this year.)
With just these statistics considered, it's clear that Aaron Judge is a deserving outfielder to be representing the American League. It's also pretty clear that he was deserving to be a starting player and for him to have been the #1 voted player in the original voting round to get a "by".
Now, it was pretty obvious that Aaron Judge was going to be an All-Star from early on this season and since then he's only cemented his case further and further. And this doesn't even consider that he is also playing for a future contract as a free agent.
It's been an impressive season to watch and I only hope it continues for the Yankees (and Judge's) sake!