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Friday, November 11, 2016

Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin: 25 year old rookies in 2017. How likely to become impact players?

Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin are a good test for Yankee fans to determine how delusional the fans have become. Both started their big league careers August 13, 2016 with a home run in their first plate appearance, homering back-to-back. Wow. But it didn't last.

Judge: 95 PA, 4 HR, 61 OPS+, 42 SO in 84 AB
Austin: 90 PA, 5 HR, 99 OPS+

Judge is expected to be the starting right fielder in 2017. Austin may share time in the outfield and at first base where 2015 rookie semi-sensation Greg Bird (debut August 13, 2015) will return after missing the entire 2016 season with a throwing arm injury. Bird is currently playing in the Arizona Fall League but not hitting well. In 2015:

Bird: 178 PA, 11 HR, 135 OPS+

Catcher Gary Sanchez established overwhelming credentials as a phenom of the first order starting August 3, 2016.

Sanchez: 229 PA, 20 HR, 168 OPS+

Their ages in 2017:
Sanchez: 24
Bird: 24
Judge: 25
Austin: 25

Both Bird and Sanchez have already exceeded the rookie limit of 130 PA but Judge and Austin have not. So, those two 25 year old rookies have the 2017 Rookie of the Year award all to themselves. At least that's what many Yankee fans think.

But how many recent non-pitcher winners of RoY have been 25 or older? And what non-pitchers who were 25 year old rookies became impact players? Here are some with their rookie age and date of birth.

2015: Kris Bryant 23, 1/4/1992
2015: Carlos Correa 20, 9/22/1994
2014: Jose Abreu 27, 1/29/1987 in Cuba
2013: Wil Myers 22, 12/10/1990
2012: Bryce Harper 19, 10/16/1992    2015 MVP
2012: Mike Trout 20, 8/7/1991    2014 MVP
2010: Buster Posey 22, 3/27/1987    2012 MVP
2009: Chris Coghlan 24, 6/18/1985
2008: Geovany Soto 25, 1/10/1983    catcher
2008: Evan Longoria 22, 10/7/1985
2007: Ryan Braun 23, 11/23/1983    2011 MVP
2007: Dustin Pedroia 23, 8/17/1983    2008 MVP
2006: Hanley Ramirez 22, 12/23/1983
2005: Ryan Howard 25, 11/19/1975    2006 MVP
2004: Jason Bay 25, 10/20/1978
2004: Bobby Crosby 24, 1/12/1980
2003: Angel Berroa 25, 1/27/1978 in Dominican Republic
2002: Eric Hinski 24, 8/5/1977
2001: Albert Pujols 21, 1/16/1980    2005, 2008, 2009 MVP
2001: Ichiro Suzuki 27, 10/22/1972 in Japan    2001 MVP

That's 20 RoY:

Abreu played high level ball in Cuba before coming to the USA. Don't know whether Berroa played high level before signing with a major league team. Suzuki had been a star in Japan.

But there are others who had been at least 25 as RoY: catcher Soto, Howard, Bay. So there is some precedent and therefor hope for Judge and Austin. Only Ryan Howard became an impact player and his impact did not last long. Howard was MVP in only his first full season 2006 and he remained a big bopper through 2009 with these home runs: 58, 47, 48, 45. Howard continued bopping for a couple of more seasons through age 31 but was essentially through after that.

Eliminating Abreu and Suzuki, we have 18 RoY. Of those, four were 25: Berroa, Soto, Howard, Bay. That's 22%. Not bad. But only Howard became what I would describe as an impact player and he impacted for only six seasons.

In addition to Howard these others became MVP: Suzuki, Pujols (3), Pedroia, Braun, Posey, Trout, Harper. Bryant may win for 2016. Plus, Longoria has been pretty impactful. None were older than 23 as rookies.

So Aaron Judge and Tyler Austin are past the age when we would expect an impact player to have become at least a regular. They each have a chance but the odds are against it.

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