Although the Yankees are 16-9, the Bombers need Aaron Judge back ASAP before it’s too late to right the ship.
About a week ago, I said the Yankees have a tough task ahead of them upon losing all-star second baseman DJ LeMahieu to a thumb sprain. Although this remains true and the Yankees need LeMahieu back more than ever, the Bombers are also in need of their star right fielder, Aaron Judge.
Aaron Judge: Before the Injury
Prior to going on the 10-day IL with a right calf strain, Judge was lighting the world on fire at the plate and in the field. In 17 games, Judge is currently hitting .290 with a .343 on-base percentage. He was leading the league with nine long balls and also had a 1.101 OPS to his name, largely in part to his .758(!!!) slugging percentage.
We all know Judge is truly a monster at the plate, and as impressive as these numbers are, none would necessarily call them “surprising.” Although a 189 wRC+ and a .448 wOBA aren’t quite sustainable, the towering right fielder has shown that he can be consistently relied upon as an elite hitter. From 2017-2019, Judge’s wRC+ has been an other-worldly 174 in 2017, to back-to-back very impressive seasons in 2018 and 2019, where he had a wRC+ of 150 and 141 respectively. His wOBA from 2017-2019 has been .430, .391, and .382 in order, all of which are very impressive campaigns.
Unfortunately, Judge landing on the IL a few weeks ago wasn’t much of a surprise, either, considering his injury history in the past. Since being called up in late 2016, Judge has had 4 injury stints, all of which lasted at least approximately a month and a half, with the exception of ’16, where he was placed on the IL on September 14 and missed the remainder of the season. Let’s not forget that Judge sustained an injury late last year that kept him out of spring training action entirely, and if it wasn’t for the postponement of the season, would’ve missed the start of 2020, too, with a rib fracture.
How Have the Yankees Managed Without Him?
Since Judge landed on the IL, the Yankees have been on a bit of a roller coaster the past week and a half. The Pinstripers swept the Boston Red Sox in a four-game set at Yankee Stadium – their first series without Judge but faltered to the Tampa Bay Rays, getting swept in three straight at home.
On the bright side, young slugger Clint Frazier has gotten an opportunity to perform after the injury to Judge (and injury to Giancarlo Stanton, as well). It’s safe to say Frazier’s making the most of his opportunity, hitting .333 with a .400 OBP in 30 plate appearances, along with two home runs.
Regardless, few would argue that Judge’s locker room presence and overall leadership, as well as his contributions on and off the field, are unmatchable. The return of Judge wouldn’t just help the Yanks physically, but also relieve the team mentally, as well. The return of the Yankees’ face of the franchise is just what the Bombers need to get rolling again.