There is no question that Aaron Judge is the heart and soul of the New York Yankees’ offense.
He leads the Yankees in batting average (.293), hits (61), extra base hits (23), home runs (15), runs scored (34), and runs batted in (35).
Judge is one of only four players currently doing so in the majors; along with Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Avisail Garcia, Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez, and Philadelphia Phillies first baseman Rhys Hoskins.
He’s putting up numbers that should keep him in the conversation for Most Valuable Player in the American League.
That is if the Yankees can start playing up to their own expectations.
After snapping a four-game losing streak with consecutive wins over the Minnesota Twins, New York has a tenuous hold on third place in the AL East. The Yankees are closer to the fourth-place Toronto Blue Jays than they are to the number two Boston Red Sox, and they trail the Tampa Bay Rays by 5.5 games.
Their offense has been one of the biggest disappointments in baseball. Only the Detroit Tigers have scored fewer runs in the American League than New York’s 240. The Yankees are almost completely dependent on the long ball to generate runs, and no player illustrates that dependency more than Judge.
This season, New York is 9-3 when Judge’s gavel sends one into the seats. In the other 44 games, he’s played without hitting a Bronx Bomb, the Yankees are 21-23.
Across those games the pitching has been relatively steady. The Pinstripes are allowing 3.25 runs per game when Judge homers and 3.96 when he doesn’t.
However, when court is in recess, the Yankees’ offense is too.
In the 12 games in which Aaron Judge has hit home runs (he has three multi-homer games this season), New York has outscored its opponents 70-39; averaging better than 5.8 runs per contest.
That output drops to just 3.4 runs per in every other game; a decrease of nearly 42 percent.
“The Judge Effect” isn’t new. It’s been consistent over his career. Since the 2017 season, when Judge hit a career-high 52 home runs, the Yankees have a .735 (86-31) winning percentage when he goes yard. In all other games he’s played, it’s a respectable .538 (181-155).
FIVE straight games with a home run for Aaron Judge 😱
Still winning, but not the type of record that holds up when the rest of the lineup has to carry the load.
This year, the discrepancy is more pronounced than ever with the Yankees winning percentage showing a difference of .273 between home run and non-home run games.
Not counting last season’s pandemic-shortened schedule, it is by far the largest gap in his career. The next widest was during that 2017 campaign (.179).
That 2017 team finished 91-71 before losing the AL Championship Series in seven games.
The Yankees haven’t gotten that close to the World Series since.
They won’t get there again this season, it seems, unless Judge can start to replicate his breakout, rookie year stats. That’s how badly the Yankees need him right now.
That means Judge has to stay healthy, and he has to get some protection and production from his teammates. At least Giancarlo Stanton has gotten hot of late, slamming three homers in two games including this blast on Thursday night. But the bullpen couldn’t hold
The Yankees placed MLBbro Giancarlo Stanton on their 10-day injured list due to a left quad strain, the team announced prior to Monday’s series opener against the Texas Rangers.
Right-hander Albert Abreu will fill Stanton’s spot on the roster for the time being.
The 31-year-old slugger has battled the injury bug his entire career. Stanton has now been on the IL/DL eight times since entering the major leagues in 2010 and was sidelined for all but 41 games over the past two seasons due to a string of injuries.
The Yankees now have several inactive players. Stanton joins teammates Gleyber Torres (COVID-19), Rougned Odor (knee), Aaron Hicks (wrist), Zach Britton (elbow), Darren O’Day (shoulder), Clarke Schmidt (elbow), and others on the sidelines.
Prior to being scratched from the lineup Friday night against the Baltimore Orioles due to left quad tightness, Stanton had been healthy and having an incredible season.
Through the first 33 games, Stanton batted .282/.347/.534 with nine home runs and 24 RBIs. He caught fire in late April with a 12-game hitting streak that included six home runs and a .480 BA.
Yankees’ manager Aaron Boone told Sports Illustrated he is targeting a May 25 return date for Stanton. Boone added that no tests have been done on the slugger’s injury, but that an MRI is under consideration.
With three DH’s currently inactive, Boone said they will need to “get a little creative” for Monday night’s game.
Rob Parker called Aaron Judge out in an episode of “Foul or Fair” this week on MLBbro.com.
Parker said that Judge was being outshined by teammate Giancarlo Stanton and needed to elevate his game, assume leadership of the team, and produce, like the 52-homer rookie we all thought would ascend to the face of baseball.
Judge must have been listening, because with teammate Aaron Hicks out and Stanton benched with quad issues, Judge found himself alone, without his fellow MLB bros to support him offensively.
The 2017 American League Rookie of the Year smashed two homers in his first two at-bats to power the Yankees past Baltimore 5-4 on Friday night.
Judge answered the call and carried a compromised Yankees lineup to victory over a pesky AL East division rival. It seems as if all of the Yankees-Orioles games this season have been dogfights. Judge’s two jacks put the Yankees ahead 2-1 to set the tone.
Black Knight Cedric Mullins AKA CM Storm, got two more hits to raise his season total to 45, good for fourth in all of MLB.
Those hits weren’t enough, however, to overcome the Judgian blasts that rained down on Baltimore like a helicopter without gas, hurling to the ground.
Meanwhile, the Yankees were finding a groove with Stanton and Judge finally both healthy in the lineup.
Hicks seemed to be coming around as well in recent games. However, as most people predicted, the Yankees’ two big boppers can’t stay healthy at the same time.
There’s a lack of continuity there that will probably come to sadly define this latest Yankees era, if these guys don’t ever get it together.
So the game of seesaw between Judge and Stanton continues. When Stanton is healthy Judge is out, when Judge is out Stanton is rolling. It’s a weird dynamic that the Yankees have had to deal with.
At least Judge seems to be locked in and willing to put the Bronx Bombers on his back for a stretch until reinforcements arrive and the pinstripes (2 games out of first place) can make a serious move on the AL East crown.
This week’s #HighFIVE is highlighted by the American League Player of the Month, a man swinging the hottest bat in baseball, and a player who committed a Bro-on-Bro crime with his grand slam last Saturday.
Byron Buxton was named American League Player of the Month for his MVP-type performance to open the season in April. He hit eight home runs and batted .426 with a .897 slugging percentage while stealing three bases to go along with 14 RBI and 15 runs scored all while playing just 18 games. He set franchise records for the Twins with the highest batting average, slugging percentage and OPS for the months of March and April.
Last Friday night, Buxton reminded us he is still a beast on the defensive side. He made a diving catch then caught another while leaping against the center field wall in a Twins victory over their divisional rivals in Kansas City.
2. Giancarlo Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton has been stunting with his bat on his way to making his first appearance on our #HighFIVE list this season. He has been on a tear and put the league on notice during his current 12-game hitting streak. Stanton has a home run in three straight games for the 17th time in his career and his five go-ahead home runs this season are tied with Fernando Tatís Jr. for the most in baseball.
Stanton has been hitting the cover off the baseball during this run. He has hit 12 batted balls with an exit velocity of 115 plus MPH — the rest of the league has just seven. He’s hit six home runs and knocked in 11, and scored 11 runs as well during the streak.
3. Cedric Mullins
Cedric Mullins has kicked his feet up and gotten comfortable being a part of our High FIVE list this season. He currently third in Major League in hits with 39 and ranks 14th with a .320 batting average.
This week, Mullins made a play that will have him eating free in Baltimore for years to come as his sliding catch in center field helped preserve John Means no-hitter, which was the first solo one by an Orioles pitcher in 50 years.
4. Jack Flaherty
Flaherty is the lone pitcher on this week’s #HighFIVE. In his last start against the Pirates, he struck out a season-high nine batters as he pitched six innings, allowing two runs in a 12-5 Cardinal win. He sits alone at the top of the wins leaderboard with a 5-0 record. Four of his last five appearances have been quality starts and he has posted a 36 to 10 strikeout-to-walk ratio during the season.
His next start will come Friday night when his Cardinals face the Colorado Rockies.
5. Tim Anderson
Tim Anderson rounds out our High FIVE by taking the fifth spot as his bat has stayed hot since his return from the injured list a few weeks ago. He is batting.298 with four home runs, 15 runs and 12 RBI this season.
Anderson was wanted for committing Bro-on-Bro crime last Saturday afternoon. The former batting champion hit a grand slam off Indians pitcher and fellow MLB Bro Tristen McKenzie.