With Aaron Judge’s season all but over, the New York Yankees can reflect on a withholding start to his tenure in the Bronx.
Aaron Judge is the guy.
He is the kid that the Yankee organization is massively invested in and he is the one they expect to see results from sooner rather than later. Simply put, he is a tremendous piece to a puzzle larger than himself.
If a franchise with 27 championships — the most in professional sports — looks to add numbers 28 and 29, respectively, Judge will be a major key.
Let’s just say there is a reason as to why New York did not part with him in order to win sooner — a la 2014 and 2015.
All of the hype, comparisons, and buzz surrounding the rising monster was something you just do not see with regards to an organization generally focused on the present.
At last, he got his feet wet. Although he essentially “burst upon the scene,” let’s not go crazy given his fall back down to earth. In fact, the 24-year-old was extremely subpar with occasional shades of brilliance.
“We got to help him fight through it. We know he has the ability, and we believe he can do it.” – Joe Girardi to Wallace Matthews of ESPN.com
His flaws were exposed, his tendencies were attacked, and his production was a confusing non-factor. After going down with an oblique injury, what did he leave the Yankees with? Nothing.
Not a clue, not an idea, not a solution, not an answer.
Joe Girardi, Brian Cashman, Hal Steinbrenner, and any player development personnel can collaborate today, tomorrow, the next day, the day after that, and even on October 3. What will they find? Zilch.
Basically, a guy who experienced the big league stage yet was halted in the midst of his adjustments, whether imminent or not.
What they have is a young stud who slashed a dismal .179/.263/.345 in 27 games as the everyday right fielder, striking out the most (45) over that length of a span in Yankee history — 44% of his plate appearances. At the same time, a neophyte whose four homers were nothing short of Ruthian.
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His play in the field was promising, his pitch recognition was painful, and his stints of excellence were emphasized like no other. It was truly a mixed bag; a frustrating mixed bag at that.
The Yankees do not need a mystery, they need answers. They do not need a long-term developing presence, they need an immediate impact performer who reeks prominence. What they essentially need is a starting right fielder in 2017.
Should it be Judge? Sure. Is the team walking in blindfolded? Certainly. This is where the fine line needs to be established.
Win now, or merely balance options. Strive for success, or simply wait and see. These are the questions that will be contemplating, directly relating to the future exposure of one man.
A man with once-in-a-generation power but no discipline in sight. A youngster with worlds of potential providing no indication as to the height of his ceiling.
What holds? The Judge who swings over the top of every offspeed pitch, or the one who can hit the ball a mile (literally). The one who could not figure out the Triple-A level or the one who eventually made it look like tee ball — with substantial, relentless work required.
Time will tell, but the Yankees have been left out to dry.
While he recovers from an oblique, the organization comes up short of its goal: seeing the full complexion of a broader stretch of Aaron Judge, deciphering his exact points of attack.
For now, he is on his own, an incredibly difficult place for him to be. Holding on for dear life will be the higher-ups who may or may not have stacked their cards in the wrong area.