Aaron Judge is America’s dinger sweetheart right now — just an absolute tater moose — and he spent the entire 2017 Home Run Derby sending home runs into the abyss, saving us from the problems those rogue baseballs would have caused us if they were allowed to live among us.
Judge is an earthquake of a man. He won the Home Run Derby with long, long, long home runs, and we’re lucky to watch him.
What I can’t stop thinking about is how players keep getting bigger and bigger. And bigger and bigger. It’s not just the baseball players. Twenty years ago, I was the same height as the average American male. Now I’m two inches shorter because these damned kids with their beef hormones in the hamburgers, I don’t even know. Everyone is getting bigger. But especially the baseball players.
Remember that Cal Ripken was supposed to be a freak because he was 6’4 and a shortstop. Now those kinds of shortstops are the rule, not the exception.
My question to you is if we’ll be here in 2047 watching a 7’0, 320-pound man in the Intergalactic Home Run Derby, marveling at the spectacle and forgetting just how big Judge was.
There are two answers to that. The first is that people don’t really talk about Frank Howard anymore, even though he was definitely a proto-Judge:
This hints that, yes, we’ll move on to a new large slugger in the future. It hurts, but it’s probably true. There will occasionally be an Aaron Judge if you look hard enough.
The other answer is that we’ll all be dead in 2047, and the lichen will rule our new sea planet.
But focus on the part about Howard. He was 6’7 in his playing days, which is the same height that Judge is listed. There has been a Judge before. Not a lesser version. A comparable player. There have been large players in the past. There will be large players in the future.
When you graph the average height of the top-10 home run hitters by decade (with help from Baseball-Reference.com), a pattern emerges:
Those large home run lads are getting larger. Except, hold on, we’re talking about a couple of inches spanning decades. No old-timer is really going to notice if a 6’4 comes to the plate because he watched 6’2 players all his life. This is all incremental.
Ah, but there’s more context. When you sort the players of the ‘20s by height, again, a pattern emerges.
- Slim McGrew, 6’6”
- Slim Love, 6’6”
- Slim Harriss, 6’5”
I am absolutely not making that up, and I implore you to check my research. The tall guys were Slim. Because they were Dhalsim in a baseball uniform. They were carnies, clambering around on stilts to scare children. And they were all Slim.
The tall players from yesteryear were not big beef-time beef lords. They were Slim, literally and figuratively. And it’s worth noting that while Frank Howard and Aaron Judge are the same height, Howard was listed at 255 pounds, with Judge at 282. There’s more beef, even compared to the beef of yore.
So we’ll do the same thing up there, but with the weight:
And because more height means more bone and skin, it’s probably helpful to look at the Body Mass Index for a ratio:
That’s weird. Don’t know what happened in the 2000s to cause that spike; so odd. ANYWAY, the point is clear. Players are getting taller. They’re getting larger. They’re getting beefier.
The odds are strong, then, that players will grow incrementally taller, and the outliers will be bigger than Judge. They’ll be bigger than Giancarlo Stanton, just like those two were bigger than Frank Howard, who could have popped three Slim Players in the first hour of a road trip and still have been hungry.
Judge is becoming the prototype, and when the prototype becomes something that can roll off an assembly line, there will be new, fancier prototypes. It’ll be decades before it happens, but my point is this: Someday, there will be larger Aaron Judges, with more violence in their swings. The people of the future will marvel at them, and they’ll be right to do so.
Us, stuck in the present? We’ll have to make do with an amazing, necessary Aaron Judge. He’s better at hitting dingers than you will be at anything for the rest of your life, and that shouldn’t depress you. That should make you happy*.
* Because we get to watch this, good gravy, did you see what Aaron Judge just did?