Top 10 Most Interesting Yankees in 2020: Aaron Judge
By Mike Whiteman
As a part of Start Spreading the News’ top 10 list of “players we are most excited to see what they do” in 2020, let’s take a quick look at Aaron Judge…
It isn’t too hard as a Yankee fan to be excited about Aaron Judge in 2020!
After dealing with injuries during the 2020 Spring Training, the Yankee outfielder came back healthy to “Summer Camp”. The reviews of camp, after a brief stiff neck scare, and the early season have been positive.
What is a healthy Judge capable of? Well, take a look at 2017-2018. Now, I’ll be the first to state that 2017 was a special season, and perhaps it’s unrealistic to expect a reprise of that campaign again. Remember what that season was like? It seemed like every time we turned around, Judge was tagging homers to the deepest part of ballparks, like this one:
Or this one:
And because I can’t resist, here’s one more:
I’d look at the 2018 season for what I think is a realistic expectation of Judge now. Through 7/26/2018, he was hitting .285/.398/.548 with 26 HR, 61 RBI 68 walks, playing in 99 of the team’s 101 games on the season. He was well on the way to a 40 HR, 100 RBI season, and had made a second All-Star game appearance. All this while playing elite defense in right field.
Stats are great, but there is something else about Judge. Every time he comes to the plate, there’s a sense of anticipation; the possibility of a spectacular tape measure shot, or a crushed high velocity hit. Judge is a player that when he’s right, you want to stop what you’re doing to watch him hit. He also genuinely enjoys the game, which contributes to making him so much fun to watch. Things changed for Judge on July 26, 2018 when he was hit on the right wrist by a Jakob Junis pitch, resulting in a “chip fracture”, which at the time didn’t seem to be a big deal and was prescribed a three week recovery period. Well, three weeks became a month and a half, and when he came back, his power lagged, slugging .341 over two weeks’ worth of games in September. That pre-HBP stretch was the last sustained healthy play we’ve seen from the right fielder. Even though his final 2019 stats looked solid, he was a bit hot and cold, missing two months of action with a significant oblique injury, then struggling to find his power in his return until a strong finish. The Yankees of the “Baby Bomber” era have been so enjoyable, and a big part of that is Judge. I really think the team feeds off of him, and when he’s on, there’s just an extra energy to the team. Let’s hope that the season can continue safely, and we can enjoy a great season by Aaron Judge.
(editor’s note – this essay was completed before Aron Judge’s recent home run hot streak.)