New York Yankees top outfield prospect Aaron Judge is in the midst of a nasty slump raising the dreaded question: is it time to worry?
Recently, New York Yankees young slugger Aaron Judge has not been performing at the level in which we saw him perform in when he got his call-up to the Bronx on August 13th, a period in which we saw him hit two home runs in his first two games as a big leaguer.
But is it time to start worrying about the big man? It could be a very valid answer to say yes.
Over Judge’s last five games he is batting .150 with zero extra-base hits. It also does not look good to some that over his last 20 at-bats he has struck out 9 times as that is almost a 50-percent strikeout percentage.
Most people are already jumping to the conclusion that the outfielder does not belong in the majors and should be sent down to work on things but let’s take a look at why that is not needed.
Aaron Judge is a very large man, reaching a height of 6’7″ and weighing 275 pounds which means he will strike out much more than the average hitter. His strike zone is much larger than others which means umpires are less passive with calls when he is up to bat. It is not very exciting, though, that his strikeout percentage is up from AAA this season where it was only 23.9%.
Throughout his tenure in the Yankees’ organization, the outfielder’s kryptonite has been the breaking pitches. Since making his debut in the Bronx a short while ago we have already begun to notice how it is tough for Judge to get a good swing on a major league curve. He has always had a tough time with the curve balls but the ones he has seen previously in the minor leagues are nothing compared to what he has being thrown at him in the majors.
Eventually, he will adjust over time to recognize these pitches and be able to get his power behind on them or just let them pass by.
Also, having a history of major slumps and then coming back on fire is another reason we should not give up on Judge just yet. In 2016 with the Yankees Triple-A affiliate, the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders, Judge started off the season great batting .287 but then the month of May was a struggle for the young outfielder. That month, his average plummeted down to .183 but he would jump out of this slump just like he had done throughout his minor league career. He would return in June with an amazing month, batting .343 with nine home runs.
Compared to some of Judge’s previous career slumps, the current one that he is in seems like nothing — it’s still a very small sample size. According to FanGraphs, he has a 47.6% hard hit percentage. Judge has been hitting the ball very hard but hasn’t been able to find the gaps. This is normal for him but most fans just aren’t used to it after seeing how he performed in his debut.
Another reason not to worry about Judge? The performance he gave us in his debut. Let’s not forget that in the first at bat of his career he hit a 446-foot bomb of a home run to dead center field in Yankee Stadium.
He would then go 4-10 so it is not like we have not seen him perform in Yankee pinstripes yet.
Furthermore, his defense has not been bad at all. Sometimes many think Judge is poor defensively just because he is a big man playing in the outfield, but besides a ball taking a bad hop passed him in Seattle last night, we have seen him make a couple of great catches.
In his major league debut, he caught a fly ball in deep right field while crashing into the wall at a field that was very new for him. Also, earlier in last night’s game, we saw him make a basket catch on the run which he was very aggressive for.
With that said, what could be the answer for Judge’s recent minor struggles?
Time is all this young athlete needs. It’s possible that a new spot in the order with a little more protection could help Judge see some better pitches but the main thing that we need to have with Aaron is patience.
He is a 24-year-old who is living out his dream and trying to live up to all of the hype and reach the same level he reached when he made his monstrous debut.