Yes, the slugging rookie hit one of the longest home runs in the history of Citi Field. But the reason behind his historic moment… Aaron Jude’s entry into the record books of major league baseball was for his strike out in the ninth inning of the Yankee victory. It was the 33rd straight game the 25 year old phenom had recorded at least one strike out, setting a new record for a non-pitcher, previously held by slugger Adam Dunn.
The strikeout dominates the baseball world in today’s game to a far greater extent than ever before. Why? Several reasons are readily identifiable. The prevalence to swing for the fences, the poor recognition of pitches which seemingly are way outside of the strike zone and unhittable and the power pitching with the 100 mph fastball becoming commonplace, all provide a glimpse to the preponderance of the “K.”
I thought it would be interesting to compare Aaron Judge to great Yankees from the past relative to “Strike Three yer out of there.” The chosen are Hall of Famers Babe Ruth, Joe Di Maggio and Mickey Mantle. Included in the analysis are Lifetime statistics for At Bats (AB), Strikeouts (K), % K per AB, and Bases on Balls (BB). In reviewing these stats, keep in mind that the game was different in years past.
AB K K/AB % BB
RUTH 8399 1330 14.2 2062
DI MAGGIO 6821 369 5.4 790
MANTLE 8102 1710 21.1 1733
JUDGE (THRU 8/17/17) 563 231 41.0 110
So perhaps you should not be looking to compare Judge to DiMaggio. The Yankee Clipper was an anomaly for a power hitter, with a strike out ratio which current “put the ball in play” batters would be envious of. However, you will note that “Joe D” was not a big bases on balls guy in comparison to the others, which if you check the records, had him lagging behind in On Base percentage.
A few other facts for Ruth and Mantle. The Bambino led the American League (AL) in strikeouts five times, yet unbelievably never recorded 100 or more K’s in a season. The “Mick” led the AL in “strike three’s” five times and had over 100 K’s in a season on eight occasions, with a high of 126 in 1959. By the way Ruth led the League in walks eleven times and Mantle five.
Baseball leaders in strike outs for batters routinely reach the 200K plateau in the modern era. Where will Aaron Judge be at the conclusion of 2017? Will he exceed Adam Dunn’s mark of 222 strikeouts set in 2012? Stay tuned.