The Favorite: Aaron Judge
Clearly the best case scenario for the Yankees is that Aaron Judge shows up to spring training and absolutely destroys the Grapefruit League. None of the guys he’ll be competing with come close to his ceiling. This team was built around the idea of Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Judge establishing themselves as a formidable 3-4-5 in the middle of the lineup for years to come.
While Judge showed off his inhuman strength during his first month in the big leagues, he also really struggled to make enough contact to make effective use of that power, hitting just .179/.263/.345 (61 OPS+) with four home runs in 95 plate appearances, striking out in an incredible 44.2% of his trips to the batter’s box.
Cashman more or less brushed off Judge’s issues in September, telling reporters:
"Obviously he’s struggled with strikeouts but part of the process is to get him up here and get these growing pains out of the way to speed up the adjustment process."
The Yankees GM also noted that there had been signs of improvement from the big man before being sidelined, however slight they may have been.
"The strikeout rate declined considerably recently and I think he’s got some plate discipline. I think he’s had some tremendous paths at the ball and he’s got some good swings and he’s just been missing and he’s just been off a little bit. But I think that he was improving and getting better."
It is far too early to give up on a potential elite player like Judge after one bad month. He’s shown the ability to make adjustments in his climb up the minor league ladder, and there is no reason to think he can’t bounce back next March and take the job that should rightfully be his.