Baseball is back, and teams reported to spring training this week. It hasn’t officially started, but media caught Aaron Judge taking reps at first base. The video showed him taking ground balls and practicing his footwork on the bag.
The Yankees do still have Anthony Rizzo under contract for two years with a player option in the third year and he is the primary starter. DJ LeMahieu will serve as his backup and will play on an as-needed basis. Fans are speculating that Judge might be the Yankees’ full-time first baseman in the future.
Rizzo signed a new two-year deal with the Yankees this offseason and Judge is now 30 years old. The Yankees may have started getting Judge familiar with the position for a future move to preserve his power and energy for the plate.
Aaron Judge taking reps at first base 👀
— FOX Sports: MLB (@MLBONFOX) February 15, 2023
Judge By the Numbers
Judge has spent his seven-year career in the big leagues in right field. He won AL Rookie of the Year and Silver Slugger in 2017, 2021 Silver Slugger, 2022 Silver Slugger, 2022 AL MVP, and was named captain of the Yankees, which hasn’t been given to a player since Derek Jeter.
He also broke Roger Maris single-season home run record last year. Judge hit 62 homers to break Maris’ 61 homers hit in the 1961 season.
It should be noted that Judge has never won a Gold Glove, but the Yankees didn’t pay him $360 million this offseason for his defense.
Other Notable MLB Stars to Switch Positions
Judge would join a list of notable MLB stars and former MVPs to switch positions in the middle of their career if he were to do so.
Cal Ripken Jr. switched from shortstop to third base as a member of the Baltimore Orioles. He never won Gold Glove as a third basemen but did make an All-Star team at the position. He eventually switched back and won MVP as a shortstop.
Alex Rodriguez was a shortstop as a member of the Rangers, but that position was occupied after the Yankees traded for him in 2004. Rodriguez won two Gold Gloves as a shortstop, then won two AL MVPs and a World Series ring after he switched to third base. Safe to say things worked out for him after he switched positions.
Chipper Jones spent 19 seasons with the Atlanta Braves. He started off his career as a left fielder and eventually made the switch to third base. He won the 1999 NL MVP award as a third baseman and considered one of the greatest switch-hitting players ever.
Carlos Beltran spent majority of his career as center fielder, but at 34 years old he decided to switch to right field. He was known for his power at the plate, speed in the field, and defense.
Mickey Mantle is another Yankees great that made the switch from outfield to first base the last two years.
Babe Ruth started his career as a pitcher for the Boston Red Sox. The left-handed pitcher won 87 games from 1915-1919 with a 2.16 ERA as a member of the Red Sox. He played at first base or in the outfield on days he did not pitch because of his versatility and his bat. His contract was then sold to the Yankees, and he made the switch to be a full time outfielder. Ruth hit 113 home runs in his first two seasons with the Yankees. He hit over 40 home runs in 11 of his 21 seasons and held the home run record with 714 for 39 years until Hank Aaron broke in 1974.