TORONTO — Aaron Judge doesn’t want to answer questions about it, but the Yankees slugger has fully responded to failed expansion talks. The judges have the first month of the season reminiscent of their Rookie of the Year season in 2017.
“I go back to last year, the second half of the season,” Yankees manager Aaron Boone said. “You know, he and Giancarlo [Stanton] Really pushed us forward aggressively. That was in line with what he was going through in the final few months of that season.
“I think we’re looking at a great player who now has a lot of big league experience. I think his talent and his preparation, as well as the experience he’s gained, made him a more polished hitter Is.
The judge heads into the Yankees’ Friday night series opener against the Rangers at the stadium, tied with Anthony Rizzo and Colorado’s CJ Cron for the most home runs in baseball (9). He leads the majors in barrel percentage per plate attendance (18.6) and hard hit percentage (67.2) and is second in the big leagues in average exhaust velocity (96.8) behind Stanton.
In other words, the judge has a perfect season to prepare teams to pay him if he is a free agent at the end of the season. Judge, however, is adamant that the failed expansion talks with the Yankees, which went uncomfortably public for him, are not his motivating motivation this season.
He doesn’t need it.
“When I have Anthony Rizzo and Giancarlo behind me and Aaron Hicks or [DJ] LeMahieu in front of me, they push you a little bit,” said the judge. “They’re always getting on base or batting great. The one who motivates the team. It drives me to go out there and hit.”
In 2017, Judge scored 52 home runs to win top rookie honors in the American League. That coming year came with high hopes for his future. However, this was followed by years of desperation as he was slowed down by injuries. From 2018 to 2020, judges were in only 63% of Yankees games due to a slew of injuries, including a broken wrist and a strained oblique, which are more common for a big slugger and a concern for future employers. Is. Last season, however, Judge played 148 games, including 39 homers, and this season he has started 22 of 25 games so far.
“I think the biggest thing is to be healthy and stay out,” Judge said. “It’s hard to be at your best when you have upsetting things going on. I wouldn’t say it’s the best I’ve felt, but we’re getting there.”
After a record number of injuries in 2019, the Yankees made a commitment to try to mitigate them through strength and conditioning. He reorganized that department with his training department, and Boone is committed to managing players’ workloads and preventing injuries.
This has shown results for both Judge and Stanton.
“I think they continue to evolve. I think they continue to discover who they are, what things work and what doesn’t work for them. I think you get better And out of necessity trying to figure out how to take care of ourselves and how to groom ourselves, as well as how we maximize it,” Boone told Judge and Stanton’s Healthy Living Said about. “We say the best capacity is availability. I think they understand that.”
The judge has made a strong start to the season. So far, his numbers (.293/.356/.652 with 1.009 OPS) look the same as his 2017 numbers (.284/.422/.627 with 1.049 OPS). The 30-year-old, however, isn’t feeling it just yet. All month, he just talks about “grinding”, until he finds his consistency.
“I am still trying to figure it out,” he said. “I have to lock it down for five batsmen, especially with the guys on base.”