Saturday, September 9, 2017

My Thoughts on Aaron Judge, The “Worst Player in MLB” Right Now


Back on July 20th an admittedly tongue-in-cheek article was posted with the title “Aaron Judge has become the worst player in baseball.” This article was posted seven games into the second half and barely a week after Judge had put on a show at the All-Star Game and the Home Run Derby bringing home the title to the American League and to the Bronx. The article was done with a bit of sarcasm, and I can appreciate that as I tend to do that a lot in my own writing, but now some people out there, so-called fans, are all over Judge because of his second-half slump. Here are my thoughts on that for all the haters out there, and the supporters as well.

First and foremost Judge was never the type of hitter to hit like he was in the first half and was due a natural regression. Anyone who thought Judge was going to chase down Barry Bonds’ single season home run record while flirting with the .400 mark or even a high .300 batting average is not only crazy but they also didn’t pay attention to Judge while at Fresno State or throughout his minor league career with the Yankees. Judge is not without his faults, I admit that, and he has been and always has been a better hitter than the .183/.350/.355 hitter in the second half but there may be a few reasons why he has struggled so mightily.

Do you believe in the whole thought process that the Home Run Derby is cursed and it tends to mess with the winner’s swing for the remainder of the season? I don’t personally, not with the number of coaches and hitting instructors in the league, but I don’t believe in the Madden curse either. Some do though and I would never completely discredit their opinion or thoughts on the matter. There’s definitely some evidence if you want to cherry pick stats and such but nothing is 100% and you can’t predict baseball so I’ll leave that theory at that.

Judge had a .426 BABIP and a 41.7 HR/FB rate before the All-Star break showing that an obvious, and steep, regression was due for the Yankees slugger. Also factor in that Judge is seeing less fastballs, more sliders (23.9 of the time Judge is seeing a slider which is up from 20.3 % in the first half), less strikes and has been chasing more pitches you can see why Judge may be struggling. Judge is only seeing 38.3 % of the pitches thrown to him actually in the strike zone in the second half while his chase percentage is up to 30.1% in the second half. Judge is seeing less strikes and is trying to do more by chasing bad pitches off the plate, that’s a rookie mistake. There’s that word again, rookie. 25-year old rookie at that.

Many, no one more loud that Bryan Hoch though, are also speculating that Judge has an apparent shoulder injury that he is playing through and hiding from the media. In a report by Hoch it was stated that Judge has been repeatedly receiving extra treatment on his left shoulder since the beginning of August. Giving a slugger a shoulder injury can explain opening up too early on his swing, swinging and missing more which his stats say that he is, and not making as solid contact as he was in the first half. The injury theory may actually be the most valid and feasible theory of them all and knowing Judge like I think I know Judge I can see a lot of Derek Jeter in him. Judge is not going to want to come off the field and Judge is not going to want to tell the media that his shoulder is the reason for his struggles.

In closing, just chill. Judge is who Judge is. The Yankees are here due in large part to what Judge has done this season and specifically in the first half. This is a team game and it takes all 25, not just the man wearing the #99 Yankees jersey. Let’s remember that and let’s keep that in perspective before we start putting our opinions out there because it has boggled my mind to see some of the hate and condescending tones on Twitter and such regarding Judge and his recent performance. This kid is a rookie and the hardest thing to do in the world is to hit a Major League pitch. If you guys and girls can do better than by all means, have at it. I’d love to see the Yankees win a few more games. If not…. Shhhhhhh. Thanks for reading!



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