On the Yankees and Mets – two teams going in totally different directions – two players have started to cement themselves as the best on their respective teams.
While both are outfielders, they are also young, sparkling players who many didn’t think would make an impact this season.
Starting with Conforto, some thought he wouldn’t even make the roster this season, let alone start for the team. Beginning the year on the bench, the only reason he got his chance is because the injury bug hits the Mets daily like that fatal knockout shot Ivan Drago gave Apollo Creed in Rocky IV. The only reason he batted leadoff in the first place was because Mets’ leadoff hitters at the time were batting under .200 combined.
With Yoenis Cespedes out for the last few weeks, Conforto has cemented himself as the best all-around player on the team. A discussion involving Conforto back on the bench when Cespedes returns is an absolute joke. But it wouldn’t shock me because it is the Mets, the team that makes essentially every wrong decision known to mankind, no matter the subject.
"“Yeah, he’s pretty special. He’s gonna be a special player. I’m glad he’s on the Mets.” – Lucas Duda on Michael Conforto, via New York Daily News"
In just 132 at-bats this season, Conforto leads the Mets in batting average (.341), home runs (13) and RBI (32), all while mostly in the leadoff position. At just 24 years of age, he already has a multi-homer World Series game back in 2015 against the Kansas City Royals. While things are going great right now, this kid needs to play every day. Who knows just how good he could become in time.
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On the other side of New York, we have a team that is surprisingly young and moving in the right direction. Built around their young players’ offensive abilities, power is running through their clubhouse like water flows down the Nile River. The Yankees currently sit first in the AL and second in MLB with 69 home runs for the season. Fifteen of those belong to defensive-end-in-a-baseball-player’s-body Aaron Judge.
Tied for the ML lead in home runs with Mike Trout, Aaron Judge was in a similar position as Michael Conforto to start the season. While it wasn’t identical, the Yankees were projected to be a lower-level team this year. Playing Judge in the outfield daily was beyond the smart decision. From a Mets standpoint, World Series aspirations were the talk before the season and wanting to stick with veterans. On the other hand, there should’ve been no question that Judge would be an everyday outfielder for the Yankees this season.
"“He is a little bit like Derek for me. He has a smile all the time. He loves to play the game. You always think he is going to do the right thing on the field and off the field. He has a presence about him. He plays the game to win all the time and that is the most important thing. It is not about what you did that day.” – Joe Girardi on Aaron Judge, via ESPN.com"
When talk came up that Joe Girardi possibly wanted to stick with Aaron Hicks, you just couldn’t really imagine the Yankees putting Judge on the bench or at AAA to start the year. Boy, did they make the right decision to start Judge at the beginning of April.
Through 149 at-bats, Judge leads the Yankees in both home runs (15) and RBI (30). He is also batting a very respectable .315 so far this season. For a player that seems to be a pure power hitter, any average near the .300 mark would be incredible for both Judge and the Yankees.
Standing at 6’7″ and weighing 282 pounds, it’s incredible to think two things: He’s only 25, and how isn’t this guy suiting up for the Jets every Sunday? In his first full season as a major leaguer, Judge is not only making a name for himself, but cementing himself as a hitter who should be feared whenever he walks up to the plate.
The next question being asked, of course, is who is better of the two? Having two of the brightest young players in baseball in the same city, it of course will be a question that is brought up. While I feel Conforto is the better all-around hitter, Judge obviously has more power and can hit for a high average as well. Rather than compare the two and pick who is what, we should just enjoy watching these two animals play on a day-to-day basis. That is, unless the Mets decide to stick with Curtis Granderson in center field when Cespedes returns next week from injury. That decision should come with its own pink slip.