After a breakout 2017 season, all eyes are on Yankees slugger Aaron Judge. He may have already broken all sorts of records but has his sights set on an even better 2018.
Baseball is a game of adjustments. In 2016, Yankees call-up, Aaron Judge, struck out in half of his at-bats in the major leagues.
In 2017, he changed his stance, hand placement and load, to generate more contact and more power. And boy did it pay off.
Judge concluded his monster rookie season with nominations for the American League Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player. While he will almost certainly take home the Rookie of the Year honors, he has a decent shot at MVP.
With Judge’s success, comes a lot of headache for his opponents. Yet, being as large as he is, it opens a lot of holes in his swing.
Judge has quickly developed patterns over his short career, which opposing scouts and coaches will continue to try and exploit the next time they face him.
So what can Judge do to avoid falling into the dreaded sophomore slump?
The primary weakness in his rookie campaign was pretty obvious. Strikeouts and chasing off-speed, out of the zone pitches were his kryptonite. While zoning in on that would seem like the obvious choice, Judge also needs to focus on one more all-important thing.
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Judge’s stance will never be the same from year-to-year, simply based on the fact that he is a massive human being.
Similarities have been drawn to Giancarlo Stanton for obvious reasons. Stanton recently had a career season, belting 59 home runs and 132 RBI. After making a simple adjustment in closing off his stance, Stanton saw his power numbers skyrocket.
So what should Judge do?
The first adjustment he should make is to quiet his swing down altogether. His stance and approach are pretty simple, but eliminating the little leg kick that he has — instead, going with a simple toe tap should allow Judge to track breaking balls better.
Following in Stanton’s footsteps, closing off his stance wouldn’t hurt either. His front hip flying open caused Judge’s slump in the middle of the season. More of a closed stance would eliminate that from happening in the future.
His hands are quick enough to turn on inside fastballs, and closing off would allow Judge to track off-speed pitches a little better, and utilize that great opposite field power.
Simply put, Aaron Judge is going to be a project for the Yankees and their coaching staff. His massive power numbers come with high strikeout totals and that will always be viewed with a negative connotation.
Aaron Judge is a key piece of the New York Yankees’ future, and following up his rookie campaign is where his legacy will begin.