The Good News of the Past Two Weeks: Aaron Judge and Gary Sanches Have Adjusted Back to the League

The Yankees have had a tough few weeks. They left for the West Coast road trip high on a five game winning streak over division rivals and a solid lead in the AL East. Since then, they've lost 10 of 12 against subpar competition, most of the team's bats have gone cold, middle relief has imploded, and the Yankees and Red Sox are now tied for first place. Gleyber Torres also tore his UCL on a freak play, so we won't be seeing him any time soon.

Rather than dwell on the negative, I want to focus on the good news: amidst all the bad play, Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez are playing great. Both players have gotten off to some of the best rookie seasons in MLB history. Like any rookies, we've all been waiting to see what happens when the league adjusts to them, then they adjust back. If Gary Sanchez and Aaron Judge are going to be the next superstar cornerstone of a Yankee dynasty, this is a critical period.

That's why this period is so important: both Judge and Sanchez are approaching the 100-game mark. The league has had plenty of time (including an offseason) to adjust.

Here's a graph showing a 20-day rolling average of Aaron Judge's wRC+ over his career from Fangraphs:

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Note that a 100 wRC+ is exactly average. Judge was on fire by the end of April, hitting close to a 300 wRC+ over a twenty game stretch. Then, there was an adjustment. Judge was still elite in May, but pitchers started to limit the damage. Then, in June, Judge adjusted back to MVP-level production. 

What about Gary Sanchez? Sanchez's breakout came in 2016, so you have to consider his progress over two seasons:

Sanchez had the best debut in major league history, in August of 2016, so try not to get distracted by the massive peak at the beginning of this series. Pitchers started to adjust to him in September, and seemed to have Sanchez figured out (the injury didn't help). Then, Sanchez turned it on in late June, and returned to superstar levels.

While the rest of the Yankees have slumped, Sanchez and Judge are hitting a 200 wRC+. Sanchez is doing it as a plus defensive catcher. This is great news. Since they've entered the league, Sanchez and Judge are the 2nd and 3rd best hitters in the American League, while also contributing on defense. In fact, if you count their 100 games so far as a full season, they are having the 5th and 6th-best seasons by wRC+ of any Yankee since 1995. Only Alex Rodriguez and Jason Giambi had better seasons - and Giambi lost a ton of value on defense.

The rest of the Yankee roster is, let's be honest, pretty questionable, other than maybe Severino. I don't buy the current seasons coming from Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday, Brett Gardner, Aaron Hicks, or even Didi Gregorius as remotely sustainable. Those guys are at best above-average players. But Sanchez and Judge? Superstars.