There has been a lot of buzz over the first few weeks of the MLB season about Yankees rookie rightfielder Aaron Judge, a gargantuan hulk of a man who stands 6'7″, weighs nearly 300 pounds, and has made hash of opposing pitching so far this year, batting a wild .277/.358/.660 with five home runs. And oh, what majestic shots those home runs have been—long, arcing, massive blows delivered by a man who looks like he was carved out of a mountainside, prodigious blasts that shake the earth as they land 450 feet or more from home plate. Behold just one of them, a colossal dinger off of White Sox rookie Dylan Covey that may as well have been shot out of a cannon.
“Ho ho ho!” booms Judge as he circles the bases, his deep bass voice rattling the very stadium around him.
Anyway, Judge is very large, and much has been made already of his massive size, particularly when he's paired up with teammate Ronald Torreyes, an infielder who stands all of 5'8″—nearly a foot below Judge—and weighs just 151 pounds. Together, they make for a delightful pastiche of absurdity, with the giant slugger and his tiny shortstop friend functioning as a modern-day Master Blaster. Gaze upon Judge and Torreyes high-fiving after a homer, and try not to laugh so hard that your insides quake.
The combination of Judge's size and age (he turns 25 in a few days) makes him a valuable building block for the Yankees, but it also leads to a daunting sobriquet: MLB's Large Adult Son. For those not in the know, a Large Adult Son is exactly what it sounds like: a young man who is also magnificently big. To wit, here's SB Nation's Matt Ufford penning an ode to Judge, “our large adult baseball son,” and singing the praises of the “beefy adolescent giantling [who] is still swatting baseballs into orbit with uprooted redwoods.”
For me, though, Judge cannot be baseball's Large Adult Son, and there's one simple reason for that: He lacks the overall goofiness that such a title requires. You see, a true Large Adult Son isn't just a young man of oversized proportions. He's also a galoot; a big boy; a bit of a lummox who nonetheless provides joy to all who know him. He's a Hawaiian shirt in human form; he's the kind of guy everyone refers to as “Spud” or “Bubba;” he is, in short, a big fat party animal. The quintessential Large Adult Son has food stains on him at all times and the kind of haircut that suggests that he goes to the barbershop with no plans. He prefers overalls to pants and no shoes to anything else. He hoots and hollers with abandon, and when it's time to get rowdy, none can match him, for he knows every pro wrestling move and has practiced all of them on his cousins in his parents' unfinished basement. You cannot bring a Large Adult Son to a fancy dinner party or your daughter's piano recital, because his giddiness will overwhelm it. He's essentially Chris Farley, but without all the drugs.
As such, while Judge is a large and strapping lad, it's hard to imagine him causing a ruckus at a Golden Corral or wearing a tie that has dogs with sunglasses on it. Judge is more in the mold of Giancarlo Stanton: a wayward Titan, come down from Mount Olympus to shock us all with his feats of strength. He's a carnival strongman, carrying a woman on each bicep or swinging an oversized hammer over and over again for no particular reason. Judge is the metal from a meteorite sculpted into a statue of Hercules that was brought to life and given a baseball bat. He is too fit, too built, too imposing to embody the all-around “aw shucks” personality that is the Large Adult Son.
No, in baseball, there is another who more deserves to be MLB's Large Adult Son, a player who is the title's Platonic ideal. I refer, of course, to Cubs leftfielder Kyle Schwarber.
How can anyone be said to match Schwarber in terms of being a big beefy boy? Schwarber is the pinnacle of the Large Adult Son in baseball, a man who looks like his diet is equal parts gas station sandwiches and frozen fishsticks that haven't fully cooked. Schwarber is built like a 1950s refrigerator and has the facial hair of a Las Vegas auto mechanic who is also the bassist for a Mötley Crüe cover band. His defense is sloppy and misguided, but it's also energetic and endearing. His oafishness, though, is matched by an untamed strength that punishes pitchers; through his heft and whip-like swing, he clobbers baseballs and sends them to places we never could have imagined.
I don't know for sure if Schwarber has all the hallmarks of a Large Adult Son—if he laughs too loud and hard at fart noises, or if he says “Gosh” all the time, or if he has at any point owned a Big Mouth Billy Bass. But to deny him his Large Adult Son title is to look past the obvious. Aaron Judge is a monster made flesh; Kyle Schwarber is the Big Boy mascot, but also really good at sockin' homers.
Schwarber's crown, though, may not be his for long. For there exists one in the minors who is the Largest Adult Son of them all, the Rowdy Prince Who Was Promised. When his time comes, he will ascend to ultimate Large Adult Son status; Schwarber is not fit to undo the velcro straps of his Teva sandals.
I speak, of course, of Mariners prospect Dan Vogelbach.