New York Yankees top prospect Aaron Judge made his long-awaited debut in mid-August. He was off to a good start but then cooled down a lot and started to strikeout more than anyone expected. Will he be able to step it up in 2017?
Aaron Judge was finally called up this year and many Yankees fans, including myself, were very excited to see Judge finally make his debut.
His career started off great as he homered in his first ever major league at-bat. After that point it seemed like everything went downhill. His season recently ended after an oblique injury but his numbers were so awful by then that it was almost a relief to shut the youngster down for the year.
He ended his season with 95 plate appearance and he struck out in 42 of them which is a 44.2% strikeout rate. Throughout his time in the minors, Judge’s large frame him strikeout more than most, but not nearly at this rate. He only batted .169 during his short stint in the majors and had simply had a lot of trouble making consistent contact. His 18.1% swinging strike rate is yet another indicator of his trouble in that area.
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One reason to be optimistic is that Judge has gotten off to bad starts before in the minor leagues as recently as 2015. After being promoted to Scranton from Trenton in 2015, Judge hit .224/.308/.373 with 8 home runs and 28 RBI and 74 strikeouts in 61 games.
Then he came and batted .270/.366/.489 with 19 home runs, 65 RBI, and 98 strikeouts in 410. The majors is an even larger jump than Double-A to Triple-A, so the fact that he would struggle once again shouldn’t be surprising.
With that said, there is every reason to think that Aaron Judge can come back and have a strong season in 2017. It was good he got his first taste against big league pitching this season and once he is healthy again he should be able to make adjustments over the winter. He is known as one of the hardest workers in the organization and will be very motivated to show he belongs next spring.
The main area Judge needs improvement in is the strikeouts, which he cut significantly from his first season at Triple-A to his second. If he can improve his contact rate even slightly, the Yankees will have a legitimate 30 homer bat to slot into the middle of the lineup next season.
Barring any offseason moves, New York appears to be counting heavily on guys like Judge, Greg Bird, and Tyler Austin to step up and provide their offense with some much-needed power. The Yankees currently are tied for 20th in baseball (with the Brewers. Yikes.) with a .405 slugging percentage. Full seasons by Judge and Gary Sanchez is probably the best way to change that.
It is way to early to give up on Aaron Judge, but the Yankees generally aren’t very patient with the struggles of young players because they are always expected to win now. He will need to work hard this winter to make the necessary adjustments, and come into next spring ready to show the team what he is capable of.