Aaron Judge was the American League Rookie of the Year and MVP of the first half. Since then Judge has not been the same player and it is time for Yankee manager Joe Girardi to drop in the order.
Judge’s rise in the Yankee order
Judge won the starting right fielder job out of spring training after a shaky start to his first cup of coffee in the major leagues.
Judge batted 8th in the order on Opening Day and the expectations that he faced were not that of a .340 hitter with 55 homers and 120 RBIs. As a matter of fact Judge never really got into a grove until the second series of the season in Baltimore where he hit his first home run of the season. Judge continued that success during the Yankees first homestand.
Over the next few series, he slowly found his way in the top five spots in the Yankees lineup and would eventually become the everyday three-hole hitter in June. Judge would take the league by storm hitting 10 homers in the month to leave him with 27 homers entering the month of July.
Judge played a large role in the Yankees getting to the top of the American League East. He gave Yankee fans a glimpse of hope in a season where the fans did not expect the Bronx Bombers to contend for a playoff spot yet alone a division title. However, with Judge struggling mightily over the last month and a half and the Yankees playoff hopes slowly dwindling, a move needs to be made.
What to do with Judge
Let’s not kid ourselves with the impact that Aaron Judge can bring to this Yankee team. Despite his struggles, Judge still leads the team with 37 home runs and 82 runs batted in. The lack of production since the All-Star break has really hurt the Yankees and had forced Joe Girardi to keep Judge out of the Yankees lineup for two consecutive games to try to right the ship.
Despite the days off Judge found himself right back into the cleanup spot in the second game of a straight doubleheader where the Yankees offense continued to struggle. Gary Sanchez hasn’t been able to maintain the production that he had put up throughout August and with a suspension looming Judge needs to start producing.
The answer is simple, drop Judge in the order. Judge has been unable to come up with the clutch hit as of late and lowering him in the order might take some of the pressure off the rookie. Girardi should move Judge down to the six-hole in the order to not only send a message, but to put Judge in a “stress-free” position.
With Greg Bird returning and looking like the player the Yankees saw in 2015 and spring training, the Yankees can afford to move Judge so he gets right before the biggest month of the season. Also, the club needs to consider looking at Judge’s left shoulder even though he insists it’s nothing.
What should the Yankees lineup look like?
There are plenty of options for Girardi when it comes to the Yankees lineup. A drastic change isn’t really needed and Girardi should go with something like this:
Brett Gardner LF
Starlin Castro 2B
Gary Sanchez C
Didi Gregorius SS
Chase Headley DH
Aaron Judge RF
Greg Bird 1B
Aaron Hicks CF
Todd Frazier 3B
This lineup still keeps Judge in a run producing slot but doesn’t give Judge the pressure of being the cleanup hitter. Didi Gregorius has hit cleanup before and can handle pressure as well as Gary Sanchez if Girardi doesn’t want to go this route.
The Yankees need to start winning games, they hold a one game lead for the first wild card spot and can be on the outside of the playoff picture as early as tomorrow. Moving Judge not only sends a message but also shows that you need to perform if you want to make the playoffs or win a championship.
Girardi has made moves like this before with guys like Jacoby Ellsbury and Gary Sanchez, now it’s time for him to move the Yankees biggest star for the benefit of the team.
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