The Yankees have patiently stood by as Aaron Judge took it upon himself to become a .300 hitter. Tired of hitting singles, Judge corrects himself…
Yankees right fielder Aaron Judge is a career .275 hitter. For a full season, this puts Judge within fifteen or so base hits to raise his average to .300. At .283 this season, that number of hits decreases even more. Nevertheless, Aaron Judge has declared that he’s “tired of hitting singles.” Good for him and good for the Yankees.
When you are blessed with all the tools necessary to put together a Hall of Fame career, it must become tempting to prove yourself in each area of play. Seemingly, in the 2019 campaign, Aaron Judge took it upon himself to show he can .300 or better if he decides to do so.
For a while, as the table below shows, Judge was headed in that direction.
But as the table also reveals, all power numbers are drastically down. To the point where it must have dawned on Aaron Judge to ask the question of himself – “Is this what the Yankees need from me”?
Remarkably, the Yankees have continued to thrive during the Judge experiment. Still, it’s likely Aaron Boone suffered a few nervous moments as he observed Judge taking his turn of at-bats. To his credit and as far as we know, Boone allowed Judge to work his way through his self imposed test. Not so remarkably, because he is Aaron Judge, the experiment is over.
In his own words, Aaron Judge speaks to the change underway, telling of a conversation he had with Marcus Thames, the Yankees Hitting Instructor:
Aaron Judge can do more. He has done more. And he will do more.
For built-in power hitters like Aaron Judge, control of the strike zone is always the bug-a-boo that thwarts a batting average. The list is long of players who hit for power at the same time they produced absurdly low batting averages and wildly numerous strikeouts.
Rob Deer, in 1991, hit 25 home runs while batting only .179 with 175 strikeouts. Mark McGwire had a season when he blasted 29 home runs while managing to hit .187. And in 2010, Mark Reynolds hit 32 home runs for the Orioles. His batting average? – under the Mendoza line at .198.
Aaron Judge will never join that club. And it could be that Judge is destined to remain a career .275 hitter.
Often appearing indecisive at the plate, especially with breaking pitches off the plate, Judge’s work to control the strike zone by cutting back on strikeouts during his ill-fated experiment, can only help as he moves forward.
The home runs will come, as Judge explains in this video following his first round-tripper in fifteen games:
Situational hitting, when a single is a hit that’s needed, is something Aaron Judge can continue to utilize in his repertoire. But the threat of a home run when Judge is at the plate remains the most critical ingredient in the Yankees lineup for opposing pitchers.
Moreover, with patience come walks. And as the saying goes in baseball, a walk is as good as a hit. For Aaron Judge, he can still get his “singles” via base on balls, something he has proved proficient at by always maintaining an on-base percentage above .400.
Welcome back, Aaron. The rest of the season awaits you.