“I really think he’s on a mission right now,” New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone said last night.
You can’t stop him. You can only hope to contain him. Through the first week and a half of the shortened season, Aaron Judge has been on another planet. We’ve seen the big guy get hot before, but last night he homered in his fifth straight game, the first Yankee to do that since A-Rod back in 2007. Although it’s only been eight games, I’ve noticed some things with Judge here in the early going.
Now take this with a grain of salt, because it’s a small sample, but Judge has only walked twice this season. That’s a minuscule 5.6% walk rate for a guy who usually walks 16% of the time. I think Judge is seeing the ball so well right now; he is just being more aggressive. He’s averaging nine mph on his batted balls and slugging .903, so yeah he’s feeling it. In our preseason predictions, Scott said Judge would hit 20, I said he would hit 25. Right now, we both look dumb. He may hit 35.
Judge is pulling the ball with authority again.
When Judge hurt his oblique last year, he missed about two months, but he was able to remain mostly productive when he returned. One thing that was pretty noticeable, however, is that he was hitting everything to right field to “protect” his injured oblique. He had a more defensive swing when he returned last season. This year, it’s been a bit different. Judge already has pulled six home runs, after only pulling five all of last year.
The funny thing is that Judge is so strong, he doesn’t even have to pull the ball to hit home runs, but pulling the ball is something that is important to have in the arsenal. For instance, let’s take a closer look at this homer he hit last night:
If you try to be defensive and take that ball the other way, you will probably pop out to the second baseman. The only way to hit a ball that far inside is to pull it, and that’s what Judge has been doing. We haven’t seen this kind of pull power from him since his rookie of the year campaign. All told, so far Judge is hitting .290/.371/.903 good for a 244 wRC+, which is all just absurd.
“Not locked in yet. Still trying to find it,” Judge said after last night’s game, “I’m feeling good.”