Struggling New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge showed why the team has been so patient with him in Monday’s 8-2 loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers.
The calls from many fans and pundits for the New York Yankees to bench rightfielder Aaron Judge have been intensifying recent days as the big man continues to rack up K after K. Through his first 93 plate appearances, Judge has 41 strikeouts, which is 44% of his trips to the batter’s box.
That simply can’t continue if Judge is going to be a productive major league hitter. That’s well north of Adam Dunn territory even in his worst seasons. There have always been evaluators who have questioned whether Judge will make enough contact at the big league level.
There aren’t many players his size in big league history simply because the larger strike zone gives opposing pitchers so much room to work with an exploit holes in his swing.
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One aspect of Judge’s game that cannot be denied, however, is his incredible strength. Katie Sharp of River Avenue Blues noted Tuesday that 99.5 mph, Judge is the MLB leader in exit velocity on fly balls and line drives for all players who have put at least 30 balls in play this season.
So when Judge squares the ball up, he can send it a long way. The 24-year-old really showed what he can do in the fifth inning of Monday’s 8-2 loss to the Dodgers.
The Yankees were already down 6-1 by that point, but the ball he launched into the left-field bleachers made fans forget about that fact, at least for a few seconds.
At 115.2 mph, the solo blast was the hardest-hit ball by any Yankees batter this season. It was measured at 436 feet, which is the seventh-longest homer hit at Yankee Stadium this season according to Ryan Hatch of NJ Advance Media.
It was Judge’s fourth homer of the season and first in September. Hopefully it’s a sign that he’s beginning to break out of the extended slump that’s plagued him since a hot start following his call up. Judge does now have a hit in four of his last five starts.
With Aaron Hicks returning from a hamstring injury, Judge may find himself out of the lineup more and more often if he doesn’t show some progress at the plate. Still, it’s important to remember how crucial Judge is to the future of this team and show some patience with the rookie.