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Isn't it Time the Yankees Sit Aaron Judge for the Season?

By Sal Maiorana

September 16, 2023


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Even though the games meant basically nothing, it’s always a good thing when the Yankees can win a series against the Red Sox, and for the first time this season, they did that by taking three of four at Fenway.

Now, let’s shut down Aaron Judge for the season. You’re now asking why?

Read on and I’ll explain.

The Yankees have 15 games remaining on the schedule, and the time has come to sit Aaron Judge down for the rest of the season.

His grand slam in the second game of Thursday night’s doubleheader - a majestic no-doubter to center field at Fenway which helped the Yankees take the finale 8-5 - should be his swan song for the 2023 season.

I know it won’t be, but here’s my rationale.

I’m no doctor, so I have no idea if he’s at risk for injuring his toe any further. My guess is that he has been told he isn’t, but let’s remember who’s telling him this: The same medical staff that couldn’t figure out Anthony Rizzo had a concussion for more than two months, and the same training staff that allowed Jasson Dominguez to play with a torn ligament in his elbow for three days, even though he alerted them that his arm was sore.

Given all the injuries the Yankees have endured for three years running, I wouldn’t trust a single thing their athletic trainers and doctors say.

But even if it’s true that Judge is at no risk to incur further damage, let’s just cut losses here on what has been a disappointing season for him and the team and put him in dry dock the rest of the year. At least that way there’s no longer a risk that he would injure another part of his body which, with this team, is always imminently possible.

Coming off his incredible 2022 MVP season, Judge was rolling heading into that ill-fated game on June 3 against Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. He certainly wasn’t looking like he was going to break his home run record of 62, but in the 49 games he played (during which the Yankees were 30-19) he was hitting .291 with a .404 on base percentage and a .674 slugging percentage with an OPS of 1.078. In 213 plate appearances he had 10 doubles, 19 homers, 40 RBI and 39 walks.

And then he crashed into that concrete barrier under the fence in right field at Chavez Ravine, mashed his toe, and while we didn’t know it at the time, the Yankees season was essentially over. They were helpless without him and by the time he returned on July 28 they were in last place in the AL East with a record of 54-49, nine games behind the Orioles and were fifth in the wild-card standings.

There were many people - I was not part of this group by the way - who thought his return would suddenly jump start the pathetic Yankees offense and enable them to make a push for the postseason. But I said at the time that it wasn’t like Judge could bat in six different spots in the lineup, so I struggled to see how his return was going to wake the rest of the team out of its season-long slumber.

There hasn’t been much to celebrate for Aaron Judge during this lost season.

Obviously, I was right about this, but part of the reason is something that I didn’t expect to happen - he hasn’t even been able to handle his own spot in the lineup and has been pretty non-productive since he came back. I’m sure the toe is bothering him because every time he swings he’s putting torque on that toe on his right foot, his plant foot. He’ll never say it, but it’s clearly affecting him and it has led to some ugly, ugly numbers.

He has played 44 games, the Yankees are 20-24 in those games, and he’s slashing .210/.378/.487 for an OPS of .864. In 188 plate appearances he has two doubles, 13 homers and 22 RBI and has struck out 51 times. I’m sorry, we all love Judge, but that’s just not very good.

He has played the majority of his games at DH, but when he’s been in right field you can tell he’s not going full speed because it’s probably painful to run. So the question becomes, what are we doing here? Yes, I’m sure he’s lobbying to be out there because we all know baseball players love their stats.

But in Judge’s case, he doesn’t need to be chasing stats because he got his money - $360 million for nine years. So whether he hits 62 home runs in each of the next eight years, or he misses every game from now through the expiration of the contract in 2031, that’s not changing. That money is his.

The Yankees haven’t played a meaningful game for the better part of a month, so why are they trotting Judge out every night? Give his at bats to the kids like Estevan Florial, Everson Pereira, Oswaldo Cabrera, even though they’ve done almost nothing and have questionable futures with the team. For that matter, throw Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Jake Bauers, two players who likely have no future with the Yankees, out there to eat up the rest of these games.

We are in who cares mode right now, but one thing I care about is Judge getting through this season without another injury so that he can attack his offseason the right way, rather than rehabbing something else besides his toe.


Sep 16, 2023

I certainly disagree with your comment that he certainly wasn't going to challenge his home run record. 19 home runs in 49 games, is a pace to hit 63, if kept up


Sep 16, 2023

Of course it is. Will they do it? Of course not.

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