Yankees slugger Aaron Judge had a season for the ages in 2022. En route to winning American League MVP honors, he nearly took home the triple crown with a .311/.425/.686 line, 62 home runs, 131 RBI, and 133 runs scored. But that doesn’t mean he still can’t find ways to get better, ya know.
The last thing anyone would expect to hear regarding Judge is that the outfielder is planning to make some tweaks to his swing/plate approach in 2023. I mean, what he did last year certainly worked, so why change it?
Because the AL single-season home run record holder wants to improve with two strikes. Judge hit 21 of his 62 homers with two strikes against him. However, it was also accompanied by a .194/.301/.399 triple slash.
In an effort to improve in that area of his game moving forward, he’s been spending time with fellow 2022 MVP, St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Paul Goldschmidt.
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The Athletic shed light on this in a recent article. Here’s what was said regarding Judge’s possible tweaks inside the box:
Judge’s typical process features a high leg kick before the pitcher throws the ball. But to improve with two strikes, he plans on eliminating his stride to the pitcher. It’s similar to Goldschmidt’s no-stride approach, where he loads up on his front foot and gets up on his toes before completing his swing.
The report mentions this is something Judge has toyed around with for a while. If he’s able to execute it properly, the outfielder thinks it’ll help improve his contact rate with two strikes, cut down on strikeouts, and ultimately, collect more hits.
These two MVPs have met at least three times over the past calendar year. Their first meeting took place during last offseason’s lockout before meeting up again during the All-Star Game in Los Angeles. New York then traveled to St. Louis for a three-game set at the beginning of August, which allowed them to sync up one more time.
It took Goldschmidt until his age-34 season to win his first MVP Award, but he’s been a consistent contender throughout his career. He’s a seven-time All-Star and a five-time Silver Slugger Award winner. The first baseman has also finished within the top six of MVP voting on six different occasions.
And, since we’re all wondering… Goldy posted a .241/.351/.435 line with 14 homers when facing two strikes in 2022.
You’ve gotta applaud Judge for looking at his historic season — even in the midst of it happening — and still finding things to improve upon. That’s how those great players are wired differently.
Matt Musico can be reached at [email protected] and you can follow him on Twitter: @mmusico8.