Aaron Judge’s message glorifies Yankees, fans

Aaron Judge at Yankee Stadium on December 22, 2022.

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Aaron Judge, the most famous outfielder in the MLB at present, wrote a message to Yankees fans on Instagram late last week. He did this after he met with the media for the first time since he signed a nine-year, $360 million contract to stay with the team earlier this month.

Aaron Judge talked to the press for the first time since he signed a 9-year, $360 million deal to return to the New York Yankees late last week. After the press conference, the power hitter posted pictures from the day on his Instagram with a message to Yankees fans.

Aaron Judge’s caption reads:

“Today was a dream. I am honored and privileged to represent the Yankees and the city of New York for the rest of my career. Thank you to the Steinbrenner family, my teammates, my family, and most importantly, to the greatest fans in the world. Excited to continue this journey with you.”

2022 was the Year of Aaron Judge

Even though it seems like a long time ago, the 2022 MLB season began in the dark. The owners’ decision to lock out the players on December 2, 2021, froze the sport and put the next season in danger. For 99 days, not much happened because the owners and the MLB Players Association couldn’t agree on the terms of a new collective bargaining agreement. There were times when it looked like there might not be a baseball season at all. It was a bad time until March 10, when the fog lifted and the union agreed to a proposal from the league. And Aaron Judge’s historical season made all forget those dark clouds.

Last season, Aaron Judge hit 62 home runs, which was the most by a player since 2001 and the most ever by an American League player. Even if the sudden respect for Roger Maris’ record from 1961 seemed like a smart way for MLB executives to market Aaron Judge to put to rest the debate over PED used by some of baseball’s famous names, that shouldn’t take away from how amazing the slugger’s season was.

Think about how he made home runs. Hitters will tell you that it stinks to have one now. More than ever, the pitchers throw hard. The balls that break are worse. The dugouts are bigger. It’s not fun to hit at this time. Aaron Judge still made it look like a breeze. During a season when the average hitter’s slugging percentage was .395, his was .686. With a 211 OPS+, he was more than twice as good as the average batter. FanGraphs gave him 11.4 wins above replacement, which is the most for any player since Barry Bonds. Since 1871, only 26 batters have reached 11 wins above replacement.

That means those are the numbers. They led to another number for Aaron Judge, $360 million over nine years in a free-agent deal with the Yankees. This is the highest average annual value for a position player in baseball history, at $40 million per year. In the 2022 season, Aaron Judge was the main character. He was the biggest player in the biggest market and did things that hadn’t been done in decades. He took the AL MVP and ran away.

Before Opening Day, the Yankees offered Aaron Judge a seven-year, $213.5 million contract, which he turned down. He then went on to have a walk season for the ages, setting a new league record with 62 home runs and coming close to winning the Triple Crown. Now, he has a contract that breaks all records.

David Cone went on YES Network and gushed about how well Aaron Judge negotiated his contract:

‘I thought it was a masterclass in terms of a player, for the first time in his career, becoming a free agent. If you think about Aaron Judge, all the years in the minor leagues, six years at the major league level, it took him the better part of 10 years before he had the chance to become a free agent and he played it as well as you can play it. I think he’s worth the money, I think he’s worth the contract. I think the surplus value that he’s already provided plays big dividends for the Yankees on the back end of the contract. Maybe those will be some rough years when he gets into his upper 30′s. But if you look at the totality of the contract, I think they’ll be very happy at the end of the day, especially if they get a ring, or a couple of rings, before that 10 years is up.”

Hal Steinbrenner, the Yankees’ managing general partner, said 99 days before the start of the regular season that Aaron Judge would be the team’s captain. Since Derek Jeter retired in 2014, this position had been empty. Willie Randolph, who was a co-captain of the Bombers from 1986 to 1988, was also at Wednesday’s press conference at Yankee Stadium.

What do you think about Judge’s message? Leave your comment below.

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