The Yankees continue to predict and then re-predict when their All-Star outfielders will return to the lineup. It’s becoming a worrisome trend…
In Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, the New York Yankees have two of the tallest position players in the big leagues. Muscles that ripple as though chiseled in stone, specimens of mankind. A person unfamiliar with baseball who sees them for the first time might guess that one is the tight end for the New England Patriots and the other is the power forward for the Golden State Warriors. Neither guess would be laughed at.
Except both Judge and Stanton do play professional baseball, and they play it at the highest level when their body permits. As Yankees fans know, though, it’s been tough keeping both players on the field at the same time, and this year it hasn’t even been possible to keep one of patrolling their position in the outfield.
Giancarlo Stanton’s last at-bat in a Yankee’s uniform came on March 31 against Baltimore. Aaron Judge last saw a pitch a month ago in a game against the Royals on April 20. It came at a time when Judge was well on his way to another MVP contending season (.288 BA, .404 OBP with five HR’s).
Ready, On Your Mark, Set…Stop!
Neither player is currently on a timetable counting days before their return. Stanton was on one of those timetables until the Yankees announced a day or so ago that he has incurred a separate injury (left shoulder strain followed by a left calf strain) from the one that originally placed him on the Injured List (IL). Stanton will not be re-evaluated for at least ten days.
Aaron Boone on Judge: “Starting to feel he is getting closer. A couple of days of throwing, he is starting to ramp up a little,’’ said Aaron Boone. “I don’t even want to speculate on it yet until he’s really full go on baseball activities and swinging a bat and stuff, I would say, I think he’s doing really well. It’s improving how we’d have hoped it would”
Translation, Aaron Judge is not expected back for at least three more weeks. To be fair, a portion of the delay is the Yankees penchant to err on the side of caution when it comes to injuries, choosing instead to wait the extra time, not pushing the player back onto the field.
The recent experience with Stanton adds to the once-bitten twice shy sentiment by the team. In all Giancarlo Stanton has averaged 114 games played in each of his ten seasons. Judge’s sample is relatively small, but he was limited to 112 games in 2018, mostly due to a wrist injury suffered when he was hit by a pitch.
While it’s too early to hit the panic button, the team has to be wondering if their big-bodied players are trending in the wrong direction when it comes to time lost due to injuries. To put it another way, are Judge and Stanton “too big for their britches”?
Perhaps, the better question is does the make-up of Judge and Stanton thwart their recovery from injury more than your average major league player.
I’m (obviously) not a physicist, nor do I wish to be one. But if you imagine two boards, one being two feet long and the other six feet long.
Which one has the tendency to break first if pressure is applied to the middle of the board? Same material, just put together in a different way. So too is it with Judge and Stanton.
Bucking Baseball History
There is a reason why, for instance, Ted Williams (6-3, 205lb) was called “The Splendid Splinter”. Hank Aaron (6-0, 180lb) held the all-time home run record with 755 until Steroid Barry stole it from him.
Jose Altuve, a mere 5-6 165lb, won a batting title and he smashed 24 home runs driving in 96 in 2016. Even Pete Alonso, the Mets leader with sixteen home runs, tops out at only 6-3 and 245lbs.
Which leaves us with this question. Are the current maladies, together with the seeming inability of Judge and Stanton to “bounce back ” from injury an aberration or a sign of things to come?
To be sure, the Yankees have to be concerned. Brett Gardner can’t play forever and Clint Frazier also seems prone to injury. Estevan Florial remains a viable candidate in the Yankees outfield, but he too is currently injured. Can Brian Cashman be expected to work his magic forever – and besides – how many Cameron Maybin‘s and Kendrys Morales‘s are out there?
The issue of Judge and Stanton’s long-range viability as everyday players is a far-reaching problem for the Yankees to deal with, especially when the salary of both players is factored in over the next decade.
As their record indicates, the team is doing more than fine without the face of the Yankees, Aaron Judge, or the prodigious bat of Giancarlo Stanton.
But that is no reason for the Yankees brass to not start the wheel turning with thoughts about the future… wondering when and if we’ll ever see this again (video).