How do you follow a season for the ages?

How do you follow a season for the ages? What are the expectations for Aaron Judge in 2023? Will fans boo if he as a great season but nowhere close to 2022? What should we realistically expect? Let’s look at what Judge did in 2022 and what baseball-reference projects for 2023.

.311-62-131. 133 R, 111 walks, 175 strikeouts. .425 OBP, .686 SA, 1.111 OPS, 211 OPS+, 391 total bases.
.288-41-99, 97 R, 78 walks, 150 strikeouts. .383 OBP, .570 SA, .953 OPS, OPS+ around 181, 297 total bases.
(projected, still MVP quality)

So, if Judge “Drops off” to the level projected, will fans get on him? How unrealistic will their expectations be? Judge did hit 52 HR in 2017. Hitting 50 again isn’t unrealistic. But if he hits 40-45, drives in 100-110, hits, .285 (something close to what is projected, will fans be happy with that?)

Personally, I think the walks projection is way too low. He drew 111 walks in 2022 and after a season like that he is only projected for 78 walks? I think pitchers will be very careful with someone after a season like Judge had and as a result, he would see as many walks or even more if he isn’t getting any protection in the lineup. Rizzo, who will probably be hitting behind Judge, is important as far as protection—just as Mantle was to Maris. How often will pitchers pitch around Judge?

A sad part of Maris’ history is the unrealistic expectations people had for Maris in 1962. Maris had hit 39 HR in 1960 but outside of 1961, never topped 40 in his career—unlike Judge.

1961 .269-61-141 132 R, 94 W, 67 K. .372 OBP, .620 SA, .992 OPS, OPS+ 167 366 total bases
1962 .256-33-100 92 R, 87 W, 78 K. .356 OBP, .485 SA, .840 OPS, OPS+ 126 286 total bases

Maris had 81 extra base hits in 1961, 68 in 1962. Maybe in 1962 he wasn’t pulling the ball as much. The balls that were HR in 1961 were doubles in 1962. His doubles went from 16 to 34 from 1961 to 1962.

In one game in 1962, Maris was walked intentionally 4x because Mantle was out of the lineup with an injury.

A good, but not great year for Maris in 1962, and his defensive play in the ninth inning of Game 7 of the WS saved the WS for the Yankees. Still, he was considered the “Flop of the Year” for 1962. Really, what were people expecting?

Maris didn’t get any MVP votes in 1962 after winning the award in 1960 & 1961. Mantle won in 1962 despite missing about 30-35 games with injury (.321-30-89 for Mickey, with 122 walks in 123 games).

Maris probably wasn’t MVP in 1962 but 33 HR and 100 RBI for a WS Champ and NO MVP consideration whatsoever?

Breaking Ruth’s record set some people off. Maris, a private person, wasn’t anywhere near as garrulous as the beloved Ruth, thus getting the “surly” rep from sportswriters.

Judge is not surly, and more affable than Maris but still a private individual. I doubt Judge will get the level of vitriol hurled at him that Maris had, and I sincerely hope not.

But I also hope the expectations for Judge aren’t ridiculous. Yes, it would be great to see him hit 60 again, but if he his .285-45-110 you would take that, wouldn’t you?


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