Yankees Spring Training News: Aaron Judge Has a New Batting Stance


Last spring, Aaron Judge was going to be starting at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, though he was seemingly biding his time before finally joining the New York Yankees. All he had to do was hit, and the front office would have no choice but to call him up.

Yankees General Manager Brian Cashman did just that only a few months later. However, the six-foot-seven, hulking right fielder is in a whole new position this spring. The primary concern with Judge from the jump was whether he could make enough hard contact and take enough walks to outweigh what was always inevitable with him, that he’d strike out.

This is ripping out the carpet in the living room, repainting the walls and moving the furniture around.

After striking out at a dismal rate of 44.2 percent in the majors, Judge knew he needed to make a change. On Friday afternoon, Yankees beat writer Bryan Hoch posted a video of Judge taking batting practice at the Yankees Minor League Complex in Tampa, Fla. with a redesigned batting stance.

When Judge made his major league debut last August, it looked like the best-case scenario would play out. He hit for a .343/.477/.686 slash line in June, and picked up where he left off after an injury-shortened July.

Speaking with NJ.com at the time of his call-up, Judge said he lowered his hands as an effort to relax at the plate. Ironically enough, he credited Matt Holliday as an inspiration for the change.

"“Matt Holliday, bigger guy, has kind of a leg kick,” Judge said. “Anthony Rizzo, I think he’s 6-foot-4, 6-foot-3, a little bigger of a guy. I just like watching guys who have the same kind of body type, kind of make the same moves as me.”"

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In his new stance, Judge has now raised his hands higher than where they were before, his pre-pitch bat waggling is more pronounced, he’s bending his knees much more, and his leg kick is gone. Judge has now changed his batting stance twice in less than a full calendar year.

Every hitter tinkers with his batting stance, the way a homeowner might change out bathroom tiling. With Judge’s batting stance, we’re talking about a full-on renovation. This is ripping out the carpet in the living room, repainting the walls and moving the furniture around.

If that’s freaking you out, let me ease your stress.

First, Judge’s new stance is far more similar to Holliday’s than his old one. Notice Holliday also crouches and holds his hands parallel to his ears. Signing Holliday was almost as much about getting him in Judge’s orbit as it was about filling the hole at DH. If anyone can mentor a big guy with a big swing, it’s Matt Holliday.

Like Judge, Giancarlo Stanton has a seemingly impossibly large frame for a hitter. However, Stanton has shown what can happen when a guy that big and strong plugs the holes in his swing. That’s not to say Judge has Stanton’s upside, but it doesn’t mean the former can’t take pointers from the latter. Notice Stanton also crouches and doesn’t require a big leg kick to generate power.

At every level of the Yankees’ farm system, Judge hit for a decent average, showed great patience and flashed Herculean home run power. The fact that he moves in right field like a speed-rushing defensive end and has a rifle for an arm are just added bonuses.

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Judge may never win a batting title like Holliday, nor be quite the prolific slugger Stanton is, but if he lands somewhere in between, he’ll still be a middle-of-the-order bat.