In ways more than the obvious, Aaron Judge is a big man. And never was that more on display than in Toronto this week.
Aaron Judge made his mark in Toronto this week in more ways than one. Batting .429, with a .579 OBP and a 1.357 slugging percentage, along with four home runs while just missing a fifth by a hair, Judge helped to take the Yankees from cellar dwellers in the American League East to six games over .500 and within 6.5 games of the faltering Tampa Bay Rays (4-6 in their last ten).
But it wasn’t only the action on the field that caught the attention of Yankees fans and a good portion of fans throughout baseball because Aaron Judge was also a standout there.
Aaron Judge: The Jury Is Back – Not Guilty
As most fans know by now, the “scandal” began with a charge from the Blue Jays that Aaron Judge was attempting to steal signs by way of his first base coach, Travis Chapman, who had irritated the Blue Jays by moving up in the coaches box to get a better view of the catcher’s signs to the pitcher.
Unless Chapman was out of the marked coaching box, stealing signs in that manner is legal in major league baseball. It was all for naught when the whole charade came crashing down when Blue Jays’s pitcher Jay Jackson admitted after the game he was “tipping” his pitches by moving his hands from his head down to the set position at his hip at different speeds on different pitches.
More than likely, what really ticked off the Blue Jays was when Aaron Judge deposited a misplaced 3-2 pitch into the right-centerfield bleachers, a majestic shot that tore off part of a maple leaf display in the stands.
Beyond The Hoopla, Here’s The Tell
What’s telling in the whole fiasco, though, is the reaction of Aaron Judge, who had drawn the attention of the Blue Jays and the telescopic eyes of the Yankees YES TV cameras for having “wandering eyes.”
Judge’s words showed his irritation with the cheating charges levied against him, but it went beyond that.
“I’m kind of looking like, ‘Who’s still talking?’ It’s 6-0,” Judge said Monday when asked about his eyes. “Our manager got tossed. He did his job. Like, let’s go back to playing ball.”
As though to say, ‘I’m working here, cut that shit out,’ referring to unknown teammates in the dugout who were still arguing ball and strike calls made by the home plate umpire after Yankees manager Aaron Boone had been tossed out for doing the same.
I even think that Aaron Judge was irritated with Aaron Boone (Judge: He did his job – by getting thrown out) for causing a distraction during his at-bat.
Yankees Team Captain In Its Truest Sense
The main takeaway should be this. Aaron Judge is a no-nonsense person and ballplayer, and his elevation to Yankees’ team captain accents that fact even more.
Judge’s attitude and approach were simple toward what may or may not have been bad strike calls. It’s not a big deal; I’ll just hit the next rock solid for a hit, which he did.
Because of Aaron Judge’s stature at 6’7″, his strike zone is amplified by the distance of his knees (where the strike zone is) to the ground. So for an umpire, pitches that are easily strikes that pass by the waist of most batters, Judge gets an unordinary number of balls (for him) called strikes.
Aaron Boone has made an issue of this over the years, and if I’m not mistaken, Judge is telling him to knock it off. I don’t need it, nor does our team, pointing to his Yankees teammates who took up the level of play following Aaron Boone’s lead.
Yankees On A Roll
Last night, the Yankees won for the eleventh time in sixteen games, and the words from Nestor Cortes, who pitched through six innings, ring true.
“I feel like we’re rolling now,” Cortes said. “I feel like we’re playing really good baseball. The dugout is coming alive.”
Buttressing that feeling, even Aaron Hicks contributed to the Yankees’ win taking the series, going two for four with a crucial single to drive in a run.
The bullpen continues to be taxed, but that’s true for every team as starters continue to roll out four or five-inning starts.
But even there, while the Yankees’ bullpen last night was minus the “usuals” – Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, Jimmy Cordero, and Michael King, the no-names in the bullpen (Ryan Weber, Albert Abreu, and Ron Marrinaccio) stepped up to nail the 4-2 win down.
Let the point be repeated, though. This season, Aaron Judge, last year’s AL MVP, is even more valuable to the Yankees.
Moreover, Judge is not afraid to demonstrate the brand of leadership qualities that seem natural to him. Nor is he afraid to take the Yankees on his back, as he did this past week.
Tonight, for Aaron Judge, though, it’s just another day of work – so let him work.