Last night was a good time to be New York Yankees star right fielder Aaron Judge. The likely AL Rookie of the Year was 3 for 4 with two home runs and six RBI, bringing his season totals to 43 and 96 on the year, respectively.
This was the second time in less than a week that Judge had multiple home runs in a game, but is he back? He's certainly looking better after hitting a lowly .185 in August, but there are still 16 games left to be played and those will be the slugger's true test before the playoffs.
A September to remember
Judge is only batting .262 this month and while that batting average seems modest, consider the fact that his OBP is .a fine 407 and his OPS is at 1.146. That's the highest it's been since June when Judge's OPS for the month was 1.167.
Judge has also been on a tear in his last seven games, batting .368 with five home runs and 11 RBI. Keep in mind that though his average for the season has slipped down to .277, this is someone who was batting .329 at the All-Star Break.
This September resurgence is just the boost that Judge needs right now, not to mention his team. The Yankees have had an up and down second half to the point where what should be easy victories have slipped away because of a lack of offense, and having Judge slugging the ball as he did in the first half again gives them hope for the postseason.
The playoff effect
There really isn't a better time for Judge's hot streak to becoming. New York is currently the top AL Wild Card team while also nipping at the heels of the Boston Red Sox for first place in the AL East.
Judge's bat coming alive again is just what the Yankees need now to either clinch a playoff berth outright or steal the division away from Boston. It's also worth noting that along with Judge, catcher Gary Sanchez has been on a tear and is looking like a bona fide star.
Sanchez shook off a forgettable July in which he batted just .231 and rebounded tremendously in August, batting .287 with 12 home runs and 26 RBI. The man they call The Kraken has continued his tear into September and is batting .366 with three home runs and eight RBI this month. The Yankees could very well look forward to a deeper playoff run than expected if Judge and Sanchez can maintain their respective paces.
But it all comes down to Judge staying locked in at the plate and keeping his strikeouts down. This is the same man who over the summer set the record for most consecutive games with at least one strikeout, so there's every chance of this current hot streak ending as there is of it continuing.
That said, here's hoping that the Judge of old is back and that he rises to the occasion with every game counting now.