Aaron Judge’s slump threatens to derail Yankees’ World Series quest

Aaron Judge

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NEW YORK — Aaron Judge had the best regular season of any player in all of baseball, but he also has the worst postseason of any player in the American League through the first two games of the playoffs. The 62-homer slugger did not collect a hit in the Yankees’ loss to the Guardians in Game 2, and he currently has a batting average of 0 for 8 with seven strikeouts in the ALDS series. After he had struck out for the fourth time, the crowd even booed Judge.

Aaron Boone, manager of the Yankees, commented on the boos that were heard after Game 2 by saying, “Man, it’s the Bronx.”

In Game 2, Aaron Judge missed on eight of his 13 swings, which is a crazy number. It was also the first time since June that he struck out four times in a game. It was his fourth postseason game in which he had four strikeouts, and all of them had been against Cleveland. Aaron Judge had four strikeouts in Games 1, 4, and 5 of the 2017 ALDS. His numbers in the postseason:

PA HR K% AVG/OBP/SLG
ALDS 2 games 44 1 61.4% .054/.205/.161
Regular season 120 10 22.5% .287/.383/.614

Boone said about Aaron Judge:

“I think they worked against him a lot of the day. Some of the pitches he’s been able to hit, he’s missed. I think that a lot of what happened today was due to how well they played and how hard it was to pick up spin and other things. It’s baseball. Great hitters fail more often than they succeed even when you’re rolling, But he’ll get back on horse and be as dangerous as they come tomorrow night.”

It’s important to note that Aaron Judge has had a rough few weeks, going all the way back to the regular season. He went 8 for 37 (.216) and struck out 15 times in his last 13 games of the regular season as he tried to hit home runs 61 and 62. Late in the season, Judge didn’t have much to hit. And now Cleveland’s pitchers are targeting to stop him by not allowing him to have his swing.

Guardians manager Terry Francona said after Game 2:

“I think sometimes — hitters can’t hit a button. As good as guys are, sometimes guys take 0-fors. Until you get through a series successfully, I don’t think anyone’s going to stand up here and pound our chest. He’s too dangerous. We know that.”

The Guardians did a good job not only of stopping Aaron Judge, but also of stopping the batters in front of him. Judge hasn’t stepped up to the plate with a runner already on the base in this series. Cleveland has been able to restrain him. They are putting themselves in a position to beat Judge.

Aaron Judge didn’t do much to help the Yankees win Game 1. He walked and stole a base before Anthony Rizzo’s two-run homer. The Yankees might even be able to win the ALDS without him doing much (see 2017 ALDS), but it is unlikely they’ll win a championship without him playing a big role. After the top four or five hitters, New York’s lineup isn’t strong enough to win consistently without anything from Judge.

Two games don’t make a postseason, and the Yankees aren’t behind in the series, but they are at their best when Aaron Judge’s every swing has the potential to change the game. Right now, it’s been hard to even get the bat on the ball. The better New York’s chances of moving on, the sooner Judge returns to his form. He has never looked more lost than he does right now.

Do you think Aaron Judge’s performance can be a make-or-break factor for the Yankees in playoffs?

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