Perspectives: The Kids, The Manager, and The Legend (Judge)
by Paul Semendinger, Ed.D.
September 20, 2022
The Yankees have a comfortable lead now. They are six games up over the Toronto Blue Jays and the Tampa Bay Rays in the loss column with just 16 games left to play. It would take an epic collapse for the Yankees to fail to win the division. The Yankees have also moved past their very poor play that defined July and August. The Yankees are actually 9-6 in September. That's a .600 winning percentage which is just about what they have done all year. The team's winning percentage for 2022 is .604.
For me, while the results are the same in the end, I'd rather a team play consistent .600 baseball from April through October than do it the way the 2022 Yankees have done... basically playing "lights out" from April through June and "lights off" in the summer months.
But, here we are, the playoffs are almost upon us. The Yankees are doing what they set out to do... win the division, that was the first step.
Let's Go Yankees!
Some other thoughts:
I have been taken to task for my belief that the Yankees should have given Estevan Florial a longer look. My reasoning was that he was never given consistent playing time and that the reason for that was that so Aaron Hicks could play. If I were running a team, I would rather give at bats to a young player (Florial is 24, Hicks is 32) who might have a future than a past-his-prime player whose future does not look promising, at all.
I have stated, many times, that Florial might be a bust. He might be terrible. He might not be a big leaguer. But, I'd rather find that out by playing him than by giving the at bats and innings to a player who was hitting under .200 for the entire second half and who has come off a series of disappointing seasons.
The bigger point is that Florial is just the latest example in my belief that the Yankees do not do a great job with their young talent. But, let's throw out the Florial argument. Fair enough. Why has Oswald Peraza not been given regular playing time? He is a supposed future star. He has progressed well through the minor leagues. He is the future, and could be the present. It is said that he is already the best fielding shortstop on the roster. And, when given playing time, he has also hit. But, he too has seen the bench for long periods.
Besides Aaron Judge, have the Yankees promoted any position player who have had any sustained success over a long period over the last twelve years? The answer is they have not.
One of Aaron Boone's strengths was that he was supposedly going to work better with young players, yet no position players, zero, have blossomed under his watch. At the same time, we have seen a host of future talent that fell way short of expectations. I see this as a problem.
I also see a simple solution - give the young players a chance to play when the opportunities arise. Florial should have played over Hicks. Peraza should be playing over Isiah Kiner-Falefa and/or Josh Donaldson. In fact, IFK and Donaldson could share third base in order to let Peraza get consistent time at shortstop. The fact that he did not, is an opportunity cost. The Yankees will head into 2023 not fully knowing what they have in Peraza when they had the opportunity, for weeks now, to give him a chance. Instead the Yankees did what they always do - they deferred to the veterans. This, I feel, is poor management and poor decision making.
Speaking of Aaron Boone. He said of Jordan Montgomery and his success in St. Louis, "Pitching in a large ballpark in the National League Central, frankly is a different animal than pitching in the American League East." (NY Post). Fair enough. To me, success is success. Montgomery has done will in the N.L. Is it easier? I don't think so. Montgomery has faced the Braves (World Champs), the Brewers twice (a team that beat the Yankees a few times in recent days), and he also beat the... Yankees. If he is so easy to defeat, why couldn't the Yankees beat him?
But, I also have a thought for Mr. Boone. Before you criticize a player's success in another league and/or division, let's see you manage there and have also success. Aaron Boone inherited a team loaded with talent, a team on the verge of a World Series. Let's see how well he manages a team that doesn't have the resources of the Yankees and see how well he does. If he is successful, then he can criticize a player's success away from the Bronx, until then, let it rest. Fair is fair.
On to better stuff...
Aaron Judge is having a remarkable season. It just gets better and better. He has been amazing. His WAR is 9.6. Shohei Ohtani is in second at 8.7. Judge leads the league in homers by 22. That's unheard of. They talk of Ohtani being Ruthian. You know what? Aaron Judge has been Ruthian Judge leads the American League in WAR, On Base Percentage, Slugging Percentage, OPS, Runs, Total Bases, Runs Batted in, Home Runs, Walks, Extra Base Hits, and Times on Base. It's been a total domination. Judge, by the way, is hitting .316. The A.L. leader is at .317. A Triple Crown is absolutely possible.
Only two Yankees have ever won the Triple Crown: Lou Gehrig and Mickey Mantle.
What Judge is doing might be greater than Ruthian (since Ruth never did it).
Lou Gehrig (1934) - .363/49/166 (WAR = 10.1)
Mickey Mantle (1956) - .353/52/130 (WAR = 11.2)
Aaron Judge (2022) - .316/59/127 (WAR = 9.6)
The highest WAR any Yankees position player has had since the days of Mickey Mantle was 9.9. That player was... Rickey Henderson in 1985.
Amazing. We will probably never see a season by a Yankee so great as what Judge is doing. Let's hope for a few more weeks of this amazing playing - and let's hope it continues through the post season. Aaron Judge has caried this team in 2022. It's a once-in-a lifetime season. And it has been great!
For the Tuesday Discussion tomorrow, we're asking our writers to make some fun predications such as how many homers will Aaron Judge end with. That'll be fun to see!