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Is Aaron Judge's size prone to injuries?

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In some ways, Yankees superstar outfielder Aaron Judge was the best player in Major League Baseball this season. 294, his 51 home runs, a 1.059 on-base percentage, and a slugging percentage that lead the major leagues after a loss to Tampa Bay on Friday. The closest hitter to him in a home run race was Kyle Schwarber of Philadelphia with 36.

At 6 feet 7 inches (282 pounds), Judge is the tallest person in baseball history to hit 50 home runs in a season, and has done so twice. To be fair, fewer than 150 players of his height have made it to the major leagues, and the majority of them have been pitchers.

Judge, who finished second in the 2017 American League Most Valuable Player award race, could finally win the award this year if he can hold off two-way star Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels.

It’s unclear how long the 30-year-old Judge will continue to shine in a Yankees uniform. In spring training, he bet on himself and turned down his contract extension that guaranteed him $213.5 million over seven years. The bet is likely to pay off, as he is expected to land an even bigger deal this offseason. He was put on hold and the other 29 teams will pursue him.

The front office should ask themselves the value and duration of the judges as they consider how much it will cost to hire them. He will be 31 next season, by the time players traditionally begin to decline. (Superstars are often the exception, though.) For Judge, his size is even more complicated.

A common belief about games is that large players break down faster than smaller ones. But it’s worth asking. is that true?

“It’s a very complicated question,” said Jimmy Buffy, a former Los Angeles Dodgers analyst with a PhD. He has a PhD in biomedical engineering and is currently in sports.He is the CEO and co-founder of Reboot Motion, a biomechanics company. “Yes, no, I don’t think it’s an easy question to answer.”

First, some context. Baseball players come in different sizes. Houston Astros second baseman Jose Altuve, who beat the judges for his AL MVP in 2017, is 5’6″ and 166 pounds and is probably listed generously. Mets designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach is 6 feet tall and weighs 270 pounds. And Pittsburgh Pirates rookie shortstop O’Neill Cruz stands 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighs just 220 pounds.

Judge is as tall as Cruz, heavier than Vogelbach, and better than both. A photo of Judge next to Altuve is one of the longest-running site his gags in baseball.

Sure, height and weight have been embellished in both directions over the years, but the Baseball Reference only lists seven players taller than 6 feet 6 and weighing over 250 pounds. No. They were Adam Dunn, a former slugger known as “Big Donkey” who hit 462 all-time home runs. Former Washington Senator star Frank Howard smashed his 382. Judges; former outfielders Kyle Blanks, Brad Eldred, Stephen Moya, Val Pascucci.

(Judges teammate Giancarlo Stanton, a former MVP who has dealt with quite a few injuries, just missed the cut at 6 feet 6 inches and 245 pounds.)

It is debatable as to why there are so few judge-sized players in baseball.

“Players this size weren’t just for injury, they weren’t for performance,” said Glenn Freisig, director of research at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. , you need perfect or good coordination to do these things: the bigger the body part, the more possibilities, but the more challenging.”

The judge thinks it could be something else.

The reason MLB doesn’t have “100+ me” is “because they play basketball or football,” Judge said.

A big, accomplished basketball player can be drafted into the NBA after a year out of college and quickly make seven figures. A football player can attend a better-equipped college than some major league his teams, and he can play in the NFL soon after being drafted. Baseball has more complicated eligibility, and years in the minor leagues, where it’s common to get into the majors for low pay, says, “For some kids, especially my height, it’s a tougher draw.” ” he said.

Aside from the low numbers of large MLB position players, biomechanics experts say those people could, in theory, be at higher risk for certain types of injuries. Of the seven super-sized position players, only three have played in his 300-plus career games: Dunn (2,001), Howard (1,895) and Judge (699).

“It’s hard to stay healthy,” said the 6-foot-6 Blanks, who played 278 games in seven seasons and weighed in at 265 pounds. He has dealt with a variety of injuries (elbow, shoulder, Achilles, calf), suggesting both his style of play and his switch from first base to the outfield were possible factors. I wouldn’t say it’s difficult, but it’s because I’m nothing but myself.”

Even small players can get hurt. For example, Altuve has been on his five injured list since 2018. So isn’t the wear and tear from playing baseball related to one’s height, weight, and strength? Not exactly.

Buffi said more research is needed on how the human body works, but a study published in the American Journal of Human Biology in 2019 found that the skeleton of a taller person simply resembles that of a shorter person. I pointed out that it turned out not to be simply scaled proportionally. Researchers found that taller people had a “significantly increased” percentage of their body weight, especially bones in their limbs.

“There’s a theoretical reason why bigger people are more prone to injury, and that’s that their bones are proportionately a little bit bigger,” he said. He later stated, “Theoretically, the larger person is using the same or similar sized bat as the smaller person, and therefore swings the bat or contacts the same size baseball.” There may be less effort to do so, just competing factors in both directions.”

Freisig divided baseball injuries into three groups: impact, traumatic exercise, and chronic exercise.

When it comes to impact injuries (e.g., hitting a ball or hitting an outfield fence), I didn’t think that a larger body would increase the chance of injury. When it comes to pulling your hamstrings when you’re swinging or tearing your oblique muscles with a clumsy swing, Fleisig says: Also hydrating and nourishing. “

But size, he said, can be a factor in chronic movement disorders suffered from repetitive movements such as pitching from the mound or outfield. can produce more force, which can increase hand speed, but the downside is that it increases the tension in ligaments and tendons, which can tear them.

“People with larger physiques as a group can have stronger muscles,” he said.

Some experts suggest that one of the greatest predictors of future injuries is past injuries, indicating whether the injuries are the result of poor training or indicate a predisposition to certain types of illness. says there is. In his rookie season he appeared in 155 games, Judges said, from 2018 to 2020 he played just 63% of Yankees games. This is due to his two injuries to a broken wrist, an oblique injury and a calf hit by a ball.

Since then, Judge has been relatively healthy. He appeared in his 148 games in 2021 and has missed only his four of his 132 games for the Yankees this season.

Judges believe his size is an asset. Flyball is a little easier. In fact, he’s used his doubts about his height as fuel.

“It’s been motivating me over the years,” he said. “People say, ‘You’re six to seven years old, you can’t do what this five- to 10-year-old guy does.’ Why can’t he? Can’t you hit shortstop? He can play outfield, so why can’t I play outfield? It’s an easy thing people can go for sometimes.”

The judge went on to mention amphetamine, a stimulant drug that has been banned in MLB since 2005. This is not the 80’s where I go out drinking every night and hang out with my greens. I think the emphasis is on the recovery process and learning about my body over the years gives me an advantage. “