Analyzing the Future

Don’t Judge Judge Until Verdict’s In

Aaron Judge with the SWB RailRiders (Photo by Martn Griff)

Saw it again on one of those blogs that appear on the web again the other day.

“Yankees Need to Trade Aaron Judge.”

The story, of course, is written on the silly and dumb basis Judge, in 27 games with the Yankees hit just .179 (15-for-84) with 42 strikeouts. Yes, those stats show the 24-year-old power hitter struggling in the short-term, but do you throw the baby out with the bathwater?

If you throw up a blog that had no contact with players, knows nothing of Judge’s personality, perhaps. That is what it is in this digital age where fake and unconfirmed journalism is all over the place. So somebody’s an “expert,” having seen some of Judge’s Yankees at-bats on television. You’re ready to join the BBWAA, we guess.

Not that reporting is always perfect, but talk to players and confirm your sources before wasting words and bytes on the web. Enough of the soapbox, let’s explore what is the reality with the 6-foot-7, 275-pound native of Linden, Calif.

What did Judge hit in his last ten games with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre? The answer is .353 (12-for-34) with three homers and 11 RBIs. He also struck out 12 times. Why is this important? Because it is a microcosm of his career. And not because this slice of stats is impressive.

Let Yankees general manager Brian Cashman tell it.

“It appears, when Aaron moves up a level, he has a bit of adjustment.”

Let the player himself explain it.

“Pitching gets better at each level,” Judge said back in 2015. “I recognize these pitches, and know what I want to do with them. It takes a bit of time to get my reactions going with them.”

A logical explanation for both Judge and many other players as they advance through the minors and reach the majors. Clete Boyer, who became a Yankees All-Star third baseman in the 1960s, batted .175 (20-for–114) in 47 games in 1959, his first season with the Yankees. Just one if many examples, he hit much better in a 16-year career.

Was Boyer a power hitter? No, he was a great fielder who batted in the .250-.260 area most years and had a few decent home run years, in fact hitting 26 in 1967 when he played for the Atlanta Braves.

So what of Judge, who has immense power and a good batting eye? Last season, in a smattering of games, he may have gotten maybe 10 percent fastballs. He saw more junk than rusting cars in a parts lot. His challenge is to adjust to them, Chances are, as he said, he’s recognizing those pitches, but is not yet reacting to them.

He has certainly shown he can do that at every level because he hammered fastballs earlier in the season in the minors and rarely saw them after May 1. He adjusted and pounded a lot of off-speed stuff – at each level.

That is the reality. That is what scouts saw. That is what those who cover the Yankees system saw. His 27  games with the Yankees in 2016 were a struggle. It was also a learning experience for him. That is the reality. The odds are heavily in his favor.

Until then don’t Judge, Judge.

 

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