Yankees: It’s now clear umpires will never understand Aaron Judge’s strike zone
By Adam Weinrib
Three years later, umpires still have no idea what to do with Yankees star Aaron Judge.
Generally, being “officiated differently” is usually a complaint reserved for the NBA. But after just about four full seasons of data, it has to be said: Yankees superstar Aaron Judge does not get Superstar Calls.
He doesn’t even get normal calls.
Yet again on Friday night, home plate umpire John Tumpane proved that umpires haven’t learned a single thing about Judge’s body, the different angles his height creates, and the fact that pitches that come in around his shins — which he physically cannot reach — simply can’t be called strikes.
We’ve got plenty of data here. Nothing has changed. Zero adjustments have been made. Apparently, it’s all on Judge, who should be breaking his swing to foul off balls that come in just above the dirt, per the umpiring corps.
Of course, Tumpane was the man who Gerrit Cole drilled with a fastball a few weeks back, so perhaps this was all just revenge.
Unfortunately, it’s beyond a consistent pattern at this point, and the expanded strike zone doesn’t manifest itself anywhere else to Judge. Fastballs, sliders and splitters below the knees remain a constant kryptonite for umpiring crews throughout baseball, and it’s gone from harmless joke in 2017 to genuine concern.
After all, how can we seriously still be doing this three years later? Judge displays a complete mastery of the zone, except for the pitches he physically cannot reach. He’s eliminated the up-and-in pitch as an automatic cold zone over the years, but these low balls simply can’t be accounted for.
At this point, we’re done making excuses, or yukking it up with the umps. There’s enough tape on Judge. You can make sacrifices to your personal ideal of the strike zone when someone steps in who’s six inches taller than the batters who surround him.
This cannot be that hard. We’re not saying Judge deserves the same leeway as, say, James Harden. He just deserves the same standards as any other competitor in his field.