Has The League Caught Up With Aaron Judge?
Well the Aaron Judge we saw last summer has returned. He is striking out at an alarming rate. Since the All Star break he is batting under .200 and has hit only seven homers while leaving a ton of men on base and also appears to be over-matched at the plate. The high fast ball and the slider has been his nemesis. He was 0-20 hitting the slider until he hit his 37th homer against the Mets on August 16th.
Judge was hitless against lefties since the break until he punched a hit against the Mets Steven Matz last Thursday. It is apparent that the Yankees are being patient but Joe Girardi has to do something. You don’t want to have to rely on Judge in the playoffs, if in-fact they make it to the playoffs. His average is now down to .282, which is not bad at this point in the season, but remember he was batting close to .330 before the break. As of Sunday’s game he has struck out 167 times and will probably strike out over 250 times. He also has a streak I am sure he would rather stop as he currently has struck out in 37 straight games. Most of these strikeouts have come with men in scoring position, which puts added pressure on him to produce.
The Boston Red Sox sat down their rookie left fielder Andrew Benintendi for a couple of games when he was struggling after the break and he has come on stronger since that time, actually helping the Red Sox beat the Yankees in three games. I feel the Yankees should do the same with Judge. Give him some time to reflect and maybe work on his batting stance.
ESPN analyst, Eduardo Perez showed a photo of Judge when he was hitting the ball well before the break. There were several differences that might be the reason Judge is striking out so much and not hitting the ball with authority to right field. He is holding his hands a little higher than before the break, which could be the reason for not being able to hit the slider. Also in the photo’s, the one prior to the break you can see his number 99 clearly after his swing, while in the recent photo you barely can see the one of the numbers. Also in his stance he is facing the pitcher squarely before the break with both eyes looking straight to the pitcher, but after the break you can see that his right eye is not looking squarely at the pitcher. These are some of the different changes he has done to his batting that could be causing him to be off-balance when he swings.
I wonder why the Yankees two hitting coaches have not seen these differences. I would think by now with ESPN being broadcast to millions of fans, the Yankees would now be aware of this. I know the Yankees need Judge’s presence but either push him further down in the lineup where he can catch his breath or sit him down for several games to work on his batting stance. He is not producing and his confidence has to be very low. Right now they have some options in the outfield and it could only help him for the stretch run. If Judge was hitting close to what he was in the first half the Yankees would probably be in first place by now. If this batting slump continues for Judge and even though on the power side he is leading the other AL Rookies, I still don’t believe he would be a slam dunk for AL Rookie of the Year.
New York, New York – Future Looks Bright
I watched the Yankees and Mets Subway Series this past week, and it was obvious the Yankees were the better team as they swept the 4-game series. The Mets did put up a fight but lack of pitching was their downfall as well as too many injuries to their starters. The Mets appear headed in the right direction, but only if their starters can return to what they were, and maybe next year the Mets will contend again. If everything aligns correctly, than New York fans can have two teams fighting for a title for years to come. The Mets look to be a lot younger next season as they continued their veteran fire sale with both Curtis Granderson and Rene Rivera departing via trades over the weekend.
Looking towards 2018, the Mets can once again be contenders with better defense, signing a couple of power relievers and having their starters return to form. New York teams have a bright future ahead of them.