BOSTON, MA - JULY 14: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees looks on in the first inning of a game against the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park on July 14, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)
After launching a three-run homer over Progressive Field’s right-center field wall at a blistering 113 mph on Sunday afternoon, Yankees’ rookie slugger Aaron Judge finally had a eureka moment.
While that blast was his American League-leading 35th jack this season — which, in its own right is grandiose for a 24-year-old — the last month of games haven’t come as easy for Judge, as he’s hit just .182 (14-for-72) with five homers, 12 RBI, and 35 strikeouts since the All-Star break. But it now appears that Judge has realized what caused his prolonged slump, and he believes adjustments will soon be made.
“The last couple of weeks, I got off my approach, and when you get off your approach here in the major leagues, people will expose you,” Judge told the New York Post. “They are getting paid to do a job. If you are not locked in 100 percent with your approach, you will get caught in between. You have to be on top of your game and focused either on the pitch, location or the zone you are looking for. If you get caught in between two zones, they are going to find the zone and attack the zone. It’s just about being on your game.”
It’s unlikely that the Yankees will see the first-half Judge — an MVP candidate who hit .329 with 30 homers and 66 RBI in 84 games — return for the final 52 games of the season, but even that production isn’t necessary if Judge finds a way to gradually bump up his batting average and slightly reduce his strikeout rate. Based on projections, Judge will most likely become baseball’s first 200-strikeout hitter to finish with an average above the .262 mark. But his superiors aren’t too discouraged over the swings and misses, simply due to the raw power he can display in any given at-bat.
With a respectable .299/.424/.627 slashline and an AL-leading 1.051 OPS thru 106 games, it’s difficult to hound Judge for any skids, as they’re almost inevitable over a six-month campaign (and this is his first go-around). But if Judge believes he’s found a solution, it shouldn’t be too long before the Yankees have their poster child back in the midst of a playoff race.