Aaron Judge: Stuck in the middle of a rapidly fading dream

Aaron Judge, Left Oblique Injury 4/20.2019 (Photo: Chat Sports)

For Aaron Judge, superstardom as a New York Yankee came quickly a mere three years ago. Today, he is racked with injuries and a career on the third rail.

Aaron Judge, if the 2020 season was not on hold, would be absent from the Yankees lineup tonight for the game at Yankee Stadium against the Boston Red Sox – marking week number six on the schedule with not a single at-bat for the season.

The projected date for the star right fielder’s return remains a moving target. Once, it was thought Aaron Judge might be ready for Opening Day. Then the timeline slid to mid-May, and finally to where the Yankees have it today in late-June or July.

Sometime this month, Judge will undergo another CT-Scan to measure any improvement in the healing process. No one will say it, but everyone connected to the Yankees, and even Judge himself has to be wondering, just what the hell is going here?

Aaron Judge Has Moved To The Third Rail

At 28, Aaron Judge should be smack in the middle of his most productive years, typically believed to be 25-31 for a major league ballplayer.

Aaron Judge - Salary In 2023? (Photo: sbnation.com)
Aaron Judge – Salary In 2023? (Photo: sbnation.com)

In another time, Aaron Judge was in the Mike Trout stratosphere, putting up 30 home runs, 66 RBI, with a .329 batting average and an off the charts 1.139 OPS – all in just the first half of 2017.

A trip to the All-Star Game followed with a walk-away win in the Home Run Derby contest, and Rookie of the Year honors that would come later.

Once, it was thought Aaron Judge as the leader of the Yankees Baby Bombers would spark a resurgence of World Championships, absent since the days of the Core Five and Joe Torre.

It was an almost foregone conclusion he would be named as the Team Captain of the Yankees, a designation held in reserve for only the best of the best.

Today, the best fans and the Yankees can hope for is that Aaron Judge can put together two-halves of any one season without losing significant time to injuries in either half.

Waiting And Hoping The Dream Reappears

Frustrating for everyone; indeed, the injuries are what they are. And significantly, they are not the type that can be traced to lack of preparation or poor conditioning.

Aaron Judge injury - rib stress fracture
Aaron Judge injury – rib stress fracture and a punctured lung

Aaron Judge diving to catch a ball off the bat of Albert Pujols late last year while puncturing a lung and fracturing a few ribs was a hustle injury – bad luck if you will.

Still, the fact remains. Aaron Judge is an afterthought in the Yankees plan for the immediate future. And what should have been an automatic extension of Judge’s contract making him a very wealthy young man, is now off the table.

Speaking earlier Tuesday to MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM, manager Aaron Boone said of Judge: “All signs are encouraging there and hopefully have him as part of all this, as well.” (New York Post)

Of course, back in March, we were hoping the coronavirus would just go away as well.

Aaron Judge: A Big And Brittle Body – Not Quite

Frank Howard: A Gentle Giant From Another Time
Frank Howard: A Gentle Giant From Another Time

Some insist that an athlete with the body type of Aaron Judge, he is more suited to be catching touchdown passes from Tom Brady as a tight end in the NFL.

But that speaks of oversimplification when you consider that “big men” have played baseball before. Dave Kingman, Frank Howard, Ted Kluszewski, and David Ortiz all managed to play through ten plus seasons in the big leagues.

But that doesn’t negate reality when you look at the numbers as they project out for Aaron Judge.

Sitting at 110 home runs after four seasons, if Judge plays another eight seasons putting him at 36, a total of 330 homers was not in the cards for a Rookie of the Year, captain-to-be, All-Star.

As Yogi Berra reminded, “It ain’t over til it’s over.” But for Aaron Judge, the cup is looking more empty than full at this juncture in his career.

As fans, though, Aaron Boone is where most of us want to go – “All signs are encouraging there and hopefully have him as part of all this”. Hoorah.

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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.