Thanks to early struggles, the question arises whether New York Yankees’ prospect Aaron Judge will live up to immense expectations.Over the last few years, New York Yankees‘ fans have been seeking a homegrown star to fill the void left by the core four.
Many players such as Joba Chamberlain, Manny Banuelos and Slade Heathcott have all been highly touted but eventually busted into nothing.
This is a trend Yankee fans hope will end. With the emergence of Aaron Judge as a potential star in the making, it may be possible.
Although Gary Sanchez is likely to become a star himself, Judge has been the most anticipated Yankees prospect.
Since 2015, fans have wanted Judge to be promoted to the MLB level. This dream finally came true on August 13th, 2016 when he and his fellow teammate, Tyler Austin, hit back to back home runs in their first major league at-bats.
It was the first time in MLB history where this feat was accomplished. Judgement day had finally arrived but after his short stint with the Yankees, fans are concerned.
The part of Judge’s game that creates doubt is his strikeout totals. In 84 at-bats in the Bronx, the 6-foot-8 slugger struck out 42 times.
That is a concerning total of 50% of his at bats. Judge will always strikeout at a high rate but in a full season, he will have nowhere near the strikeout percentage he had in his first cup of coffee.
In his MiLB career, Judge maintained a 29% strikeout percentage which is much better than what he showed in his short stint with the Yankees which leaves me with reason to believe this will not be a huge issue moving forward.
With that, despite Judges limited success at the major league level last year, Yankees’ fans should not be concerned. The kid is known for having an adjustment period at every level he has reached.
A clear example would be Judge at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. In 2015, Judge had a slash line of .225/.308/.373 with 8 home runs while playing in Triple-A.
However, in 2016 he had a slash line of .270/.366/.489 with 19 home runs. He has shown the ability to make adjustments at the plate and there is no reason to doubt he will do it again.
Judge has an advanced approach at the plate, he is patient and focuses heavily on maintaining a short swing to avoid strikeouts.
The occasional whiff is inevitable with a player of his size but this doesn’t he can’t hit for a decent batting average. Hall of fame member, Dave Winfield is 6’6″ yet he managed to sport a career .283 batting average.
The tools are there for Judge and now he just needs to put everything together, but what are realistic expectations for the kid?
If he could remain healthy in 2017, I believe he will have a slash line of .240/.300/.470 with 25+ home runs. These are numbers the Yankees would be thrilled with but they are far from a guarantee.
The monstrous outfielder’s 2017 season will be determined by how long it takes him to make the necessary adjustments to succeed at this level.
Some fans see him and believe he is a 50 home run threat but that is not the type of hitter Judge is.
If he becomes a consistent 25-30 home run hitter who can play solid defense and draw walks, fans should be thrilled. 2017 can be a very good year or a very bad year for Aaron Judge but in a long term viewpoint, I am not worried about him and neither should Yankee fans.
Patience may be required with Judge but if the Yankees let him go through his growing pains, the team and their fans will be rewarded.