New York Yankees rookie right fielder Aaron Judge looked unstoppable in the first half.
The big outfielder was batting .329 with 30 home runs and 66 RBI at the All-Star break before winning the Home Run Derby with an eye-popping 47 long balls. He then went 0-for-3 in the actual All-Star game, and the rest is history.
It has been nearly a month since the All-Star break and Judge has managed just five home runs and 12 RBI over that stretch. He is batting just .175 since then and looks lost at the plate.
Even worse is that those five home runs are Judge’s only extra-base hits since the All-Star break, and his batting average has slipped to .294. The one positive is that his OBP is still a respectable .422, so Judge is still drawing his fair share of walks.
Getting on base is all fine and dandy, but the fact of the matter is that Judge is in the lineup in the #3 spot to get quality hits and mash home runs. He isn’t doing either now and needs to adjust accordingly as he has throughout his short career so far.
Judge is big in stature with a naturally long swing whose bread and butter is his phenomenal power. This means he will have high strikeout totals no matter how much or how little he adjusts over the rest of the season.
But it seems clear what Judge’s problem at the plate could be. As was pointed out by Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports, opposing pitchers have been feeding Judge a steady diet of “fastballs in, or fastballs up and in, and sliders down and away.”
Brown also speculated that Judge could simply be tired, since minor league seasons are much shorter than those on the major league level, but the former scenario seems much more likely based on the second-half tape of the 25-year-old. Judge is chasing more sliders out of the zone and pitchers are throwing him far fewer balls in the strike zone.
The easy solution for Judge is to just not chase sliders out of the zone anymore and sit on balls in the strike zone. Sadly, this is real life and not a video game, so he must fix his problems at the plate in a deeper manner.
First off, he should watch all video of himself since the All-Star break. Judge knows his body and game better than anyone else and he has made adjustments throughout his career. For example, Judge made his Triple-A debut in 2015 and hit just .224 in 61 games following his promotion from Double-A ball. Fast forward to next season and Judge had he upped his batting average to .270 in 93 games before being called up to the big league roster.
This is just another case of Judge needing to adjust accordingly and in this case, it may a case of learning to tinker with his swing on the fly. It’s naturally long, so maybe he can figure out how to adjust it so he can push a ball to the opposite side if he’s already committed to swinging at a ball out of the zone. Regarding the inside fastballs or high and inside fastballs, it could just be a matter of learning and eventually figuring out which ones at which he shouldn’t swing.
Or, if he wants to make the most minor of adjustments, perhaps Judge should adjust where he stands in the batter’s box. There are so many things he could do to improve himself at the plate, so it’s just a matter of which works best for him.
If he can do that soon, the Yankees can look forward to getting the star of their lineup back in top form over the season’s home stretch. Otherwise, it will be a long month and a half in the Bronx.
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