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Judging The Aaron Judge Legacy in the Bronx
ALSO: DID BUCK SHOWALTER DESERVE NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR HONORS?
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The unwritten story [of the World Series]
The Astros demonstrated against the Yankees and Phillies that pitchers need only two pitches: a mid-90s fastball and a straight-down diving breaking ball. It's counter-intuitive to swing six inches below where you see the ball. Batter thinks fastball but it's not there.
Pitcher after pitcher, starter or reliever, each repeated the pitching plan successfully. Double-digit strikeouts by the 'Stros every game. The one Houston pitcher who threw right-to-left breaking balls that did not dive, Lance McCullers, gave up five homers.
Assemble a staff of pitchers who can do this and it's a sure thing. It's a credit to Houston's pitching coach.
Maybe that’s why they let the GM walk.
— David Cohen, Atlanta, GA
Did you know…
Bryce Harper’s balky elbow, which restricted him to DH duties over the second half of 2022, may need Tommy John ligament replacement surgery, which could delay his return next spring . . .
Congratulations to the pennant-hungry Seattle Mariners, who picked up much-needed power in acquiring 30-year-old outfielder Teoscar Hernandez (73 homers over three seasons) from Toronto for two pitchers this week . . .
The Mets, hoping for more home runs, are shortening the distance to right center field at their Flushing ballpark by 8.5 feet in the space just to the right of the 370-foot sign . . .
Finding creative yet inexpensive ways to bolster their bullpen, the Braves signed 40-year-old Jesse Chavez to a minor-league contract and former Rays closer Nick Anderson to a split contract that costs under $1 million even if he makes the varsity . . .
If Dansby Swanson’s demands can’t be met in Atlanta, the Braves could find a replacement in trades with Cleveland (Amed Rosario) or Milwaukee (Willy Adames) . . .
Does his recent move of his residence to the Tampa Bay area, where the Yankees train, suggest Aaron Judge will stay with the team?
Aaron Judge And His Yankees Legacy
By Paul Semendinger
Many pundits are stating that Aaron Judge needs to re-sign with the Yankees to secure his Yankees legacy. While I understand that idea, and the sentiment behind that line of thinking, I also believe that idea is absolutely wrong.
Aaron Judge has already secured his Yankees legacy.
No matter what happens with his free agency, Aaron Judge will one day find himself in Monument Park in Yankee Stadium. He has already earned that honor. Where he plays from 2023 going forward has nothing to do with what he has already accomplished. Aaron Judge's Yankees legacy is already firmly established.
Currently, according to Baseball Reference, Aaron Judge is 24th all-time on the all-time Yankees list in WAR (37.0). Judge sits above players already enshrined in Monument Park, such as Paul O'Neill (26.7) and Roger Maris (26.3).
Interestingly, O'Neill and Maris were also right fielders known for excellent defense and strong throwing arms, along with their excellent batting skills. Maris, of course, is the only other player in American League history to exceed Babe Ruth's 60 home runs in a single season. In this, he and Aaron Judge share a huge similarity.
Should Aaron Judge depart as a free agent, he and Maris would have something else in common as well: they would both have left the Yankees and finished their career somewhere else. (Maris, of course, went to the St. Louis Cardinals where he played for the final two years of his career, helping the Cardinals reach two World Series.)
Maris' tenure with the Yankees did not end in glory, yet, in 1983, the Yankees honored him, primarily for his great 61-home run season (and his two MVP awards) by enshrining him in Monument Park. For the Yankees, it made too much sense to bring Maris back and give him his due.
I have no doubt that wherever he goes, the day will come when Aaron Judge is honored again in Yankee Stadium. Teams almost always welcome back their former stars, and for the Yankees and Judge, even if that happens after his playing days are over, a reunion will make far too much sense both for the team's and the player's legacy. Both the Yankees and Aaron Judge will reap rewards, financial and otherwise, one day by reuniting with a special day at Yankee Stadium that would include Monument Park honors.
I also wouldn't be surprised if Aaron Judge would even get his number retired. Aaron Judge has played in seven seasons as a Yankee. Reggie Jackson's number is retired and he was a Yankee for only five seasons. He also was a right-fielder who left the Yankees and played for other teams.
Now, should Aaron Judge stay with the Yankees, and should his career last just another eight years, and if those years are even somewhat productive, Aaron Judge will end his career among the greatest Yankees of all time. He will be among the greatest of the greats.
Assuming Aaron Judge averages just 4 WAR over the next eight seasons (Judge, for his career, typically averages between 5 and 6 WAR, and in 2022, he accumulated an amazing 10.6 WAR), he would end with 69 WAR and in sixth place all-time on the all-time Yankees list.
He'd sit behind only Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Joe DiMaggio, and Derek Jeter on that list of greats. Give Judge just another 2.4 WAR, in total, over eight years, and he'd pass Jeter and jump into the top five Yankees of all time.
And, of course, it's not just WAR. Already, Judge, with 220 home runs, is 12th on the Yankees' all-time list. If he stays with the Yankees, it's reasonable to assume that in 2023 alone, he'll pass Graig Nettles and move into 10th place.
But, even he averages only 20 home runs over an eight-year contract, Aaron Judge would end with 380 home runs in pinstripes. That total would put Judge in fourth place overall behind only Ruth, Mantle, and Gehrig. In fact, Judge would surpass even Gehrig if he averages slightly over 34 home runs over the next eight years. That also seems extremely possible.
Aaron Judge will be the talk of baseball this winter. He will be offered some huge contracts to play and continue his impressive career to date. If he continues with the Yankees, Aaron Judge has the chance to be an inner-circle great, but even if he leaves to play for another team, Aaron Judge's Yankees legacy is on a solid foundation.
No matter what happens, look for Judge to be enshrined in Monument Park one day in the not too distant future.
Dr. Paul Semendinger is a retired school principal and an active college professor. Paul just finished collaborating with Yankees great Roy White (who also belongs in Monument Park) on his autobiography: From Compton to the Bronx. This book will come out, from Artemesia Publishing, in April 2023. Paul recently completed his 23rd marathon in New York City. He'll be running his next big race in Pittsburgh in May 2023.
Miscarriage of Justice: Buck Showalter Was Not a Deserving ‘Manager of the Year’
By Dan Schlossberg
We’ve seen this act before: the election of a candidate who didn’t earn the vote or even deserve a place on the ballot.
Buck Showalter, 24th manager of the New York Mets, became the first to be named National League Manager of the Year.
He got eight first-place votes, tied with Dave Roberts of the Los Angeles Dodgers and one more than Brian Snitker of the Atlanta Braves. But the second-place ballots boosted Buck over the top.
That made the first-year manager of the Mets the first man to win Manager of the Year in four different decades, the first to win with four different teams, and one of only three pilots — along with Hall of Famers Bobby Cox and Tony La Russa — to win the award four times.
But did the voters pick the right man?
Sure, the Mets won 101 games, tied with Snitker’s Braves for the most in the NL East. The Flushing flyers also reached the post-season — albeit an expanded, 12-team version — for the first time since 2016.
“It’s a well-deserved honor,” said well-endowed Mets owner Steve Cohen, whose billions allowed the club to buy Max Scherzer, Starling Marte, Mark Canha, and other free agents off the open market. “There is no doubt Buck had the players’ respet and they played hard for him. He is one of the sharpest minds in the game and he builds a winning culture.”
Well, maybe not.
The Mets didn’t win anything. Not the division. Not the pennant. Not the best-of-three Division Series against San Diego — even with all three games at CitiField.
In fact, Showalter blew a division crown that was his for the taking. His team had a lead of 10 1/2 games over Atlanta on June 1, then needed only one win in a three-game series at Truist Park on the last weekend of the season. They failed, even with Scherzer, Jacob de Grom, and Chris Bassitt lined up to start each game.
In 21 years as a manager, Showalter has never won a pennant or reached a World Series. But he’s somehow charmed his way to Manager of the Year awards with the 1994 Yankees, 2004 Rangers, 2014 Orioles, and 2022 Mets.
It staggers the mind to wonder how he could have convinced the voting writers — two in each of the league’s cities — to bypass Roberts, who led the Dodgers to a club-record and best-in-baseball 111 wins, or Snitker, who survived a series of severe player injuries (Ozzie Albies, Adam Duvall, Eddie Rosario, Luke Jackson, plus a slow-to-recover Ronald Acuña, Jr.) to post baseball’s best record after June 1.
He fearlessly promoted 21-year-old Michael Harris II from Double-A and fellow freshman Spencer Strider from a relief role to the rotation. Coincidence or not, those two moves triggered a 14-game winning streak that put the Braves on track for their fifth straight NL East crown — the longest division winning streak in baseball.
Showalter, 66, is a no-nonsense guy who pays attention to detail and knows the rules better than most umpires. His career record is 1,652-1,578, putting him on a potential path to Cooperstown. Only 18 others have managed their way to more wins.
Backed by baseball’s biggest payroll, Buck should’ve done better. But an inexplicable 14-5 record against the Phillies prevented his club from finishing third.
And speaking of the Phillies, Buck’s spot as one of three finalists should have been filled by Rob Thomson, the bench coach who replaced Joe Girardi in June and took his troops to the World Series after taking the league’s last wild-card spot.
Before Showalter surfaced in Queens, Davey Johnson came closest to winning the managerial honor, twice finishing second (1984 and 1986). Willie Randolph ranked second in 2006.
HERE’S THE PITCH Weekend Editor Dan Schlossberg of Fair Lawn, NJ has been covering baseball since 1969. His byline appears in forbes.com, Latino Sports, USA TODAY Sports Weekly, Sports Collectors Digest, Memories & Dreams, and other outlets. Also the author of 40 baseball books, he speaks and signs at libraries, civic groups, and synagogues. E.mail him via firstname.lastname@example.org.
“I wasn’t even thinking I’d be in the league this year.”
— Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez after leading all rookies in hits, RBI, and extra-base hits
With both Justin Verlander [Astros] and Sandy Alcantara [Marlins] winning Cy Youngs by unanimous vote, this is just the second year both winners were unanimous [Denny McLain of Detroit and the Bob Gibson of St. Louis captured all the votes in 1968] . . .
Atlanta starter Spencer Strider, runner-up to teammate Michael Harris II for NL Rookie of the Year, admits he modeled his slider after Jacob deGrom’s . . .
Strider’s ratio of 13.8 strikeouts per nine innings was the best by a rookie in baseball history . . .
Brendan Donovan, who finished third in NL Rookie of the Year voting, started at six different positions for the Cardinals in 2022 but now says he has no favorite spot . . .
Don’t be surprised if the Braves bid for free agent Jean Segura, second baseman for Philadelphia in 2022, and move him back to his original position of shortstop.
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HERE’S THE PITCH is published daily except Sundays and holidays. Brian Harl [email@example.com] handles Monday and Tuesday editions, Elizabeth Muratore [firstname.lastname@example.org] does Wednesday and Thursday, and Dan Schlossberg [email@example.com] edits the weekend editions on Friday and Saturday. Readers are encouraged to contribute comments, articles, and letters to the editor. HTP reserves the right to edit for brevity, clarity, and good taste.