Aaron Judge a fan darling but lacks MLB peers’ complete confidence

Yankees' Aaron Judge, despite being a fan favorite, finds himself far from the top in an MLB player's poll.
Esteban Quiñones
Tuesday June 11, 2024

Table of Contents

Aaron Judge is a name that resonates with baseball fans, not just within the confines of Yankee Stadium but across the country. His towering presence, affable demeanor, and incredible on-field performance have made him a beloved figure among fans of the sport, not limited alone to the Yankees faithful. Yet, despite his widespread popularity, Aaron Judge seems to struggle with gaining the full confidence of his Major League Baseball peers as the best player in the game. This paradox becomes particularly evident when examining the results of a recent players’ poll conducted by The Athletic.

Poll results reveal players’ preferences and Aaron Judge is far from the top

A recent poll by The Athletic asked MLB players a straightforward yet revealing question: “Who is the best player in baseball?” The responses highlighted the current landscape of baseball greatness and, intriguingly, placed Aaron Judge in a somewhat surprising position. Here’s how the votes broke down:

  • Shohei Ohtani: 46%
  • Ronald Acuña Jr.: 26.5%
  • Mookie Betts: 8.8%
  • Aaron Judge: 8.8%
  • Mike Trout: 3.3%

The results crowned Shohei Ohtani as the clear favorite, a testament to his dual-threat capabilities as both a pitcher and a hitter. Ohtani’s dominance is such that even players who sought to avoid the predictable choice couldn’t help but acknowledge his unparalleled impact. One player even admitted, “Such a stupid answer. So vanilla. But … he is.” Ronald Acuña Jr., despite being sidelined with an ACL tear, secured a solid 26.5% of the votes, underscoring his peers’ recognition of his talent. Mookie Betts and Aaron Judge shared third place with 8.8% each, while Mike Trout rounded out the list with 3.3%.

This poll reflects a reality where Aaron Judge, despite his significant contributions and leadership on the field, finds himself trailing behind other superstars in the eyes of his peers. However, a closer look at Judge’s current season statistics paints a different picture of his performance. While Aaron Judge might not top the players’ poll, his statistics for this season are nothing short of extraordinary, making a compelling case for him being the best player in baseball based on performance alone. Judge’s dominance is reflected in several key metrics (as of 10th June):

  • WAR: 5.0 (League-leading)
  • Offensive RAR: 47 (League-leading)
  • Home Runs: 24 (MLB leader)
  • Walks: 55 (MLB leader)
  • OBP: .436 (MLB leader)
  • SLG: .703 (MLB leader)
  • OPS: 1.139 (MLB leader)

Yankees’ most overrated players?

In the same poll, players were asked to name the most overrated players in baseball. Understandably, this question didn’t get as many enthusiastic responses and the answers were all over the place. Jazz Chisholm of the Marlins topped this list with 20% of the votes, with one player asking how he ended up on the cover of last year’s “MLB The Show” video game.

Anthony Rendon, who was previously voted the most underrated player back in 2019, came in second at 10.2%. Other names that got called out were Carlos Correa (6.7%), Tim Anderson and Jack Flaherty (5% each), with Pete Alonso, Cody Bellinger, Alex Bregman, Elly De La Cruz, Manny Machado, and Blake Snell also getting some overrated love.

Among those also receiving a vote each were several starting Yankees players Gerrit Cole, Juan Soto, Carlos Rodon, Marcus Stroman, Giancarlo Stanton, and Alex Verdugo.


One player’s comment on Juan Soto captured a sentiment that very few Yankees fans could attest to: “Could be a spite pick, to be honest. I feel like all he does is walk and hit singles, and he doesn’t hit for power like he’s portrayed. Also not a good fielder.”

In his walk year, Juan Soto has transformed the Yankees’ offense in a way few can. Let’s dispel this nonsense about “only” hitting singles and walking. Every time he gets on base, Aaron Judge is right behind him, ready to do what he does best: crush the ball. The combination of Soto and Judge is a nightmare for opposing pitchers, and anyone who downplays Soto’s impact is blind to the undeniable truth.

Yankees rank fifth when contracts and other factors are not considerations

When players were asked which team they would sign with if factors like contracts, state taxes, and rosters were not considerations, the Yankees emerged as the fifth most preferred team. Here’s the breakdown:

  • Atlanta Braves: 12.7%
  • Boston Red Sox: 9.3%
  • Los Angeles Dodgers: 8.1%
  • Texas Rangers: 8.1%
  • New York Yankees: 6.9%

Players’ choices frequently mirrored their personal connections, with numerous individuals gravitating towards teams near their offseason residences or hometowns. Franchises situated in regions with milder climates or those steeped in rich histories, such as the iconic New York Yankees, emerged as popular selections. Moreover, certain players highlighted the allure of particular stadiums, with one voter from Texas remarking, “Their new ballpark is truly remarkable.”

The vibes factor

Another intriguing aspect of the poll asked players which teammate they would most want on their team if they were going solely on vibes and not on friendships or stats. Aaron Judge was a popular choice, receiving 4.2% of the votes. Other Yankees like Gerrit Cole, DJ LeMahieu, Juan Soto and Gleyber Torres also featured.

On Cole, one player said, “Never met him, but I’ve been a big fan of him for a long time.” Another player described Torres as “pretty vibey.”

Yankees' Gleyber Torres posing with Juan Soto at spring training 2024
Instagram/ Yankees

Then, players were asked about organizations with unsavory reputations. The troubled Oakland Athletics emerged at the forefront of this list, garnering 40 mentions out of the 79 respondents, trailed by the White Sox, Angels, Rockies, and Mets. Interestingly, the iconic Yankees also found themselves on this list, with one player remarking, “No one wants to play for them. A bunch of rules.”

At the end of the day, Aaron Judge is still a fan favorite, loved for his monster performances on the field and his fun, relatable personality. But this recent players’ poll from The Athletic shows that his fellow big leaguers aren’t quite ready to crown him as the best player in baseball. Even so, Judge just keeps mashing and putting up video game numbers. It may just be a matter of time before his peers have no choice but to put some respect on his name. What do you think? Leave your comment below!

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3 thoughts on “Aaron Judge a fan darling but lacks MLB peers’ complete confidence

  1. Polls are just opinions. Who cares? Judge currently leads the majors in every offensive category except batting average! Plus, he’s a top rated OFer, with a ridiculous strong arm, and above average range. Ohtani is just a DH, and average pitcher.

  2. Ohtani’s alleged superiority to other all-time greats is the BIGGEST MYTH in MLB history. He’s an excellent hitter, and a very good pitcher, but he’s not even close to being the greatest hitter or pitcher, all time.

    Here’s the reality vs. the Myth that many baseball “experts” seem to be ignoring.

    First, here are Ruth’s Pitching Stats from 1919, the last year in which Ruth BOTH Pitched and Hit, compared to Ohtani’s Stats from his 2023 MVP season, when he did both. The player who EXCELLED in each area over the other is shown in ALL CAPS.

    IP: RUTH 133.1, ohtani 132.0.

    ERA: RUTH 2.97, ohtani 3.14.

    Starts: OHTANI 23, ruth 15.

    CG: RUTH 12, ohtani (a pathetic) 1.

    So, Ruth pitched 1.1 More Innings than Ohtani in fewer starts, with a much lower ERA and 12 Times More Complete Games. And Ohtani’s ERA likely would have risen to 3.75 to 4.00 (and possibly higher) if he had pitched 11 More Complete Games, instead of being relieved after about 5.2 IP in his starts.

    So, Ohtani was NOT a better pitcher than Ruth as a 2-way player. He was, in fact, VASTLY INFERIOR as a pitcher & hitter, as I’ll show next.

    Here are Ruth’s & Ohtani’s hitting stats for the same years (1919 & 2023), when they were Both 2-Way Players.


    Now, here are the offensive categories in which Ohtani OUTPERFORMED Ruth: Homer Runs.

    That’s it folks! RUTH was VASTLY SUPERIOR to Ohtani in 10 of 11 Offensive Categories! And in 1919, Ruth was still hitting a DEAD BALL for HRs, not the super ball (by comparison) that’s used today. Moreover, Ohtani Struck Out almost 2.5 Times More than Ruth (143 times to 58).

    So, let’s dispense with the BULLSH*T CLAIM that Ruth never did what Ohtani did. The REVERSE is True: Ohtani has never done what Ruth did. Ruth not only Pitched & Hit in the same year (multiple times), RUTH DID IT BETTER THAN OHTANI. Anyone who says otherwise hasn’t checked the FACTS cited above.

    NOTE: In 1920, his 1st year as a full-time hitter, Ruth OUT HOMERED Every Other TEAM in the AL. In 1927, Ruth again OUT HOMERED Every Other TEAM in the AL, and Ruth is the only player to ever do that even once, let alone twice! So, Ohtani needed to hit 234 Home Runs in 2023 to do what Ruth did in 1920 or 1927, and he fell “just” 190 Home Runs shy of that feat. (The Twins and Rangers each hit 233 HRs in 2023 to lead the AL.)

    And let’s not forget that Ruth Played the Field when he was a hitter, unlike Ohtani. Ruth didn’t get to sit back & relax on the bench. Instead, Ruth had to play in a WOOL uniform, chasing balls in outfield in the sweltering heat of summer, while Ohtani sits in an air-conditioned dugout in a comfortable synthetic uniform, while other people do the really hard work in the sweltering summer heat.

    So, spare me the Complete BULLSH*T that Ohtani, a DH & sometimes pitcher (when not injured), is better than people like Judge, Mays, Mantle, Gehrig, Musial, DiMaggio, Hank Aaron & about 100 other great Position Players. You cannot compare the wear-and-tear a position player experiences over the course of a season to that of a DH, who, effectively, just pinch hits for the pitcher 3-4 times a game.

    Btw, Mays won 12 Gold Gloves, and Mantle won one Gold Glove. Where are Ohtani’s 12 Gold Gloves as a 2-way player? Hmm. How about just ONE Gold Glove, like Mantle? No? Hmm.

    Moreover, in terms of WAR, Ohtani’s career to-date total is PATHETIC compared to Ruth’s. The Babe’s career WAR as a hitter and pitcher is 183.1, Easily The Highest of Any Player in History! After 7 seasons as a 2-way player (through 2023), Ohtani’s career WAR is a paltry 37.2, by comparison. So, Ohtani needs to accumulate more than 145 WAR the remainder of his career, just to TIE Ruth in WAR. So, Ohtani’s not even in the same Country, let alone the same zip code, as Ruth as an impact player.

    And I’ll dispense with one other MYTH about Ohtani. Earlier this year, Jon Heyman said on the MLB Network that Ohtani proved that The Babe was Wrong when he said no player could continue as a two-way player full-time. That was an amazingly STUPID statement because Ohtani Proved that The Babe Was RIGHT!

    Why? Because Tommy John Surgery didn’t exist in Babe’s time, so if a pitcher (or hitter) blew out his arm (or leg) in Babe’s time, HIS CAREER WAS OVER! So, Ohtani’s career as a pitcher (and as a hitter) would have ended his first year in MLB, when he had his first TJ Surgery in 2018. And since very few pitchers have been effective after a second TJ Surgery, Ruth may be proven right yet again.

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