Baseball is back, and so are home runs. Every New York Yankees fan, and many baseball fans, have heard of Aaron Judge before. If you haven’t already, you will soon. Before Gary Sanchez stole the show last season (20 HR in 53 games), all the talk in the Bronx was about the massive 6’7 righty with Giancarlo Stanton-like power. There has been an influx of exciting rookies around MLB the past few years, and 2017 should be no different. The season is still incredibly young, but Aaron Judge has already shown us in the first 15 games that he is capable of hitting the ball very, very hard.
It’s no secret that Judge has power. Between the Majors and the Minors, he’s blasted 20+ home runs each of the last two seasons. When you think of a player that weights 275 pounds, you’re probably picturing someone with Pablo Sandoval or Prince Fielder‘s physique. Judge is very much not built like them, but he’s shown the potential to hit a lot of bombs. The Yankees seem to have an excellent core piece moving forward in Aaron Judge. He’s already got 5 dingers to his name in 2017, and there should be many more to come.
Not as popular, just as powerful
Judge has the MLB lead in home runs among rookies, but there are two guys hot on his trail. Orioles first baseman Trey Mancini and Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger are also tearing the cover off the ball these days. Mancini was an 8th round pick out of Notre Dame back in 2013, and has been a hitting machine ever since. He carries a .306 lifetime batting average in the minors, and his power has grown along the way. After hitting just 10 homers in 2014, Mancini has knocked 20+ bombs in each of his last two seasons in the minors. Baltimore doesn’t have a clear path to everyday playing time for Mancini. If he keeps hitting like this, though, they’ll have to find him a spot.
Unless you live in Seattle or Arizona, you may not have heard of Mitch Haniger before. Often referred to as the “other guy” in the Jean Segura trade, Haniger is making a name for himself. Not only has he already blasted 4 homers, he’s also hitting above .290. As Jeff Sullivan of Fangraphs pointed out, the Taijuan Walker-Jean Segura trade may eventually be known as the Walker-Haniger trade. Haniger was a .290 hitter in the minors, finishing last season batting .321 with 25 homers and 34 doubles between AA and AAA.
I cannot stress enough the caveats that come with this small a sample size. They’re hitting well right now, but it’s highly doubtful they’ll maintain this pace. Judge is on track to hit about 50 home runs. Meanwhile Mancini and Haniger are on track to hit more than 40. I’d be surprised if any of them hit more than 30 bombs though. Every player is bound to hit streaks and slumps, but rookies can be especially susceptible to this.