Aaron Judge pummels rivals, brings Yankees back in contention

Yankees captain Aaron Judge is seen playing against the Reds in Cincinnati on May 20, 2023.
Sara Molnick
Tuesday May 23, 2023

Table of Contents

The Yankees took 30 games to secure their first 15 wins of the season. However, in their subsequent 19 games, they managed to achieve 14 wins, showcasing a positive trend of progress. It is considered moving in the right direction. There were various exaggerated reactions when the Rays seemed to be on a path to winning around 170 games this year. Furthermore, concerns arose when the Yankees fell 10 games behind on May 5 and again on May 7.

Before the Rays faced the Blue Jays on Monday evening in St. Petersburg, their lead over the Yankees had decreased to 5 ½ games. With 113 games remaining, the Yankees were set to begin an interesting series against the confident Orioles on Tuesday night. It is worth noting that things tend to work themselves out as expected over time.

Yankees get Aaron Judge’s bat back

This notion holds even more significance when you have the most dominant offensive player in the entire sport on your team. The Yankees are fortunate to have Aaron Judge as their player, who, although he may not surpass the record of hitting 62 home runs this year, continues to exhibit his exceptional skills even a few weeks after celebrating his 31st birthday. Judge remains at the pinnacle of his abilities as a professional athlete.

Having Aaron Judge batting in the No. 2 spot has proven to be quite advantageous for the Yankees, as they now essentially have a cleanup hitter in that position.

Yankees reliever Ron Marinaccio shared his admiration for Aaron Judge, noting that he finds it impressive to observe Judge’s performance consistently. According to Marinaccio, Judge’s approach at the plate remains consistently high-quality, creating anticipation of impactful hits or home runs. He further adds that Judge consistently delivers in crucial moments, making it enjoyable to closely witness his contributions daily.

Aaron Judge of the Yankees at Great American Ballpark, Cincinnati, on May 20, 2023.
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For Yankees fans, Aaron Judge’s impact on the team is undeniable. Despite missing 10 days due to an injury and being given a day off on Sunday, Judge has played in 38 games, and the team has emerged victorious in 24 of those games. This correlation is not coincidental. Judge’s value extends beyond mere statistical achievements. In his inaugural season as Yankees captain, he has truly exemplified the meaning of being the “most valuable player.”

After returning from the injured list on May 9, Aaron Judge had the opportunity to gradually regain his form in that game as the Yankees were comfortably dominating their opponent, the Athletics. However, in the subsequent 11 games, Judge displayed an exceptional level of performance. He boasts an impressive batting average of .405, a slugging percentage of .976, and an impressive on-base percentage of 51.9 percent. Additionally, he has hit seven home runs and contributed 16 runs batted in during this period.

When Aaron Judge is healthy and in top form, he consistently demonstrates his prowess as a dominant force. During the recent period, he has continued to exhibit this ability, acting as a one-man wrecking ball for the opposing teams. As expected, the Yankees have thrived during this stretch, boasting an impressive record of 8 wins and 3 losses.

Aaron Judge’s remarkable performance is the type that elicits awe from almost everyone who isn’t wearing his iconic No. 99 jersey. It leaves spectators shaking their heads in amazement at his extraordinary abilities.

Aaron Judge mentions that he consciously avoids dwelling on his performance. According to the Yankees captain, he approaches each at-bat independently, regardless of the outcome of his previous one. His focus is solely on the current situation, such as assessing the pitcher on the mound and determining how he can contribute to the team’s success. By adopting this mindset, Judge believes that it becomes irrelevant whether he is on a hot or cold streak.

Many people anticipated that replicating or surpassing Aaron Judge’s incredible performance from last year would be a challenging task. The impressive numbers he achieved in 2022, such as hitting 62 home runs, driving in 131 runs, and having a 1.111 OPS, were not easily attainable statistics. Furthermore, factoring in his 10-day stint on the injured list only adds to the complexity of matching those exceptional accomplishments.

A year-on-year comparision

Despite the circumstances, let’s compare the statistics Aaron Judge had on the morning of May 23 last year to what he will have this year. On May 23 last year, he woke up to 15 home runs, 35 runs batted in, and a 1.065 OPS. In contrast, on the same morning this year, he will wake up to 13 home runs, 32 runs batted in, and a 1.042 OPS. It’s important to note that last year’s season began later due to the lockout, which means Judge had more opportunities for at-bats compared to this year. Consequently, achieving a total of 62 home runs this year might still be a challenging feat to accomplish.

With a player like Aaron Judge in the current period, it’s hard to imagine anything being out of his reach.

Aaron Judge hit a massive home run at Rogers Center to lead the Yankees to victory on May 16, 2023.

Clarke Schmidt suggests that Aaron Judge’s recent performance closely resembles what was witnessed last year. According to Schmidt, Judge remains the same player, and he perceives no notable changes compared to the previous season.

One of the most remarkable moments occurred during a seemingly unsuccessful situation. It took place last Sunday at the Yankees’ home stadium against the Rays. The Yankees were behind 8-7, and there were two outs in the ninth inning. Aaron Judge confidently approached the plate. Despite the unpredictable nature of baseball, there was an undeniable sense of certainty among the 42,116 spectators in the stands, the 25 individuals in the Yankees’ dugout and bullpen, and perhaps even the 24 players wearing Rays’ uniforms. They all shared the belief that Judge was about to equalize the game.

Following his swing, Aaron Judge managed to create a significant impact. The lone remaining player for the Rays, Jason Adam, who had thrown the pitch, immediately recognized the outcome. The Yankees power hitter reacted by bending over at the waist, fully aware of what had transpired. Surprisingly, despite the ball falling just inches short of the 399-foot sign in the challenging outfield known as Death Valley, Jose Siri successfully made the catch. At that moment, Adam took a breath, and Judge showed his appreciation by saluting him.

The remarkable aspect of this moment was that, in a game where failure is prevalent, Judge had indeed fallen short. However, the journey and display of skill were truly remarkable. Judge proved once again what an exceptional player he is, and this season continues to showcase his exceptional talent that can carry the Yankees.

What do you think?

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