Sunday, August 11, 2019

Why are the Yankees so insistent on Aaron Judge batting second?

Not long ago, geologically speaking, the chiseled Olympian god known as Aaron Judge appeared unto the Yankiverse. He was like nothing we'd ever seen, a baseball player big enough, fast enough, and strong enough to - gulp - play in the NBA, or even as an NFL defensive end. In his rookie season, he hit 52 home runs, a number that conjured memories of Mantle and Maris. Our ship had finally come in. 

By mid-season, the Yankees had rebuilt a second of the right field bleachers into the "Judge's Chambers" in RF, where fans dressed like Monty Hall contestants could sit. Soon, Judge's No. 99 became the hottest selling jersey in Major League Baseball, and to this day, it remains atop the sales list.

Let that sink in. In sales of apparel, MLB and the Yankees rake in more cash off Judge than any other human being, alive or dead. Considering the outlandish price of those jerseys, and the sweatshop wages surely paid to stitch them, Judge is a human goldmine, as profitable as he is large. 

Worst Yankee hitters over last 7 games
Wait a minute: This is starting to sound like a hit job - that I'm going to bash the guy. No way. We all love Judge. He's a great fielder, a hard-nosed player and a great teammate. Unfortunately, he might just not be a great hitter. 

Last year, Judge belted 27 HRs. This year, he has 12. Part of this is his inability to stay on the field. His size, speed and fragility suggest a young Giancarlo Stanton, a comparison more and more troubling to Yankee fans. He remains the new Pride of the Yankees. He's just not the next Mike Trout, and if his numbers continue to circle drain - he'll be lucky to hit 20 HRs this year - there will come a point where he's most famous for his untapped potential. In New York, that's a bad way to be.

Listen: I'm not talking about benching him, trading him, or distancing ourselves when he rightfully demands an honest contract. What I'm asking today is why he must always bat second? The 2019 have a wonderful circular batting order - our RBI leader, DJ LeMahieu, bats first - and we now gone three months of watching Judge strike out or hit into DPs. (His problem, say the stat wonks, is too many ground balls.) Time after time, the Yankees get a rally going, and then Judge comes to the plate. 

Strangely, nobody else in the lineup has been so inscribed into concrete. Even Stanton - what we remember of him - was dropped in the order. Lately, Gio Urshela has bounced from seventh to cleanup, and Didi dips and soars every game. In the Yankee lineup, there remains one rock, one certainty: Aaron Judge will bat second. 

Well, it's not working. He's not producing. And when Aaron Boone reacts defensively to any suggestions of moving Judge, I'm starting to wonder if jersey sales have something to do with it. Just sayin'. 

25 comments:

Unknown said...

Even in off years, Jeter was kept in the sacred #2 slot in the lineup. Understandable because an off year was usually bookended by great years. That and ol’ Jeer has built up some credit, helping to win 4 World Series in his first five years. But Aaron Judge has done nothing except make Hal lots of retail dollars, so why the Lineup Card Love from Aaron Fucking Boone? Loyalty? Is it because he’s a team leader? It makes no sense. He should be batting 6th right now and Tauchman or Maybin should be second, with Urshela hitting 3rd.

Parson Tom said...

repeated from a previous post for today's topic:

https://www.mlb.com/news/aaron-judge-slugging-to-opposite-field-in-2019

JM said...

Interesting article there, Tom. Whatever is going on with him, it's not just in our imaginations. If this current slump is only a slump, fine. If he hits home runs at his usual rate and they're all to right and center, fine. No reason he has to pull the ball. But if this is more than a slump and his production doesn't recover, we have a big six foot seven problem, and batting him seventh won't work, either.

Here's hoping he turns it around, and soon.

ranger_lp said...

He's injured and doing his best to contribute. As I have said before a 50% Judge is better than most outfielders in MLB.

Rufus T. Firefly said...

Stanton transferred to 60 day EL.

I don't hate the guy, but sheesh! Can't help but think it might be steroids causing his body to break down. Will he be able to get the double room discount with ol' Jake at the retirement home?

HoraceClarke66 said...

Wow. I don't wish anyone ill—except maybe David Price—and Stanton seems like a nice-enough guy. But frankly, I'm relieved. It looks as though we won't have to endure The Flailer in the postseason.

Rufus, you hit the nail right on the head. How IS it that guys go on the EL and get...WORSE? How is that possible?

I suspect that your explanation is the reason—and at this point, with this Yankees team, I think it's reasonable to venture that PEDs are not just hurting the players themselves. They wreak havoc with attempts to build a good team, and end up ripping off the fans, who have paid cash money to see these guys.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Everyone should read the piece Parson Tom sent along. And I will repeat some of the stats I sent along before, too:

At first, I was glad to see Judge going opposite field. I thought, 'Oh, smart, he's going with what they give him, and he's using that short porch at the Stadium.'

But as this article shows, it's not that at all. He CAN'T pull anymore, at home or on the road, which implies either a physical problem, a real inability to deal with what he's thrown, or both.

The power production is simply way down, period. And it's happening over an extended period of time.

In 2017, he was hitting a homer every 13 plate appearances, and that was even with the shoulder injury sustained at the notorious Home Run Derby, and a resulting, two-month power slump.

In 2018, he was down to a home run every 18.4 appearances.

In 2019, it's down to almost a home run every 23 appearances—and sliding quickly.

HoraceClarke66 said...

As to the rationale about batting Judge second: it's based on the idea of his high OBP. But right now, as yet another Judgeian slump continues, that's below .400 and falling rapidly.

The whole Kremlin-on-the-Hudson approach has become maddening—and destructive.

It wasn't just that the Yanks TOLD the world that Severino was tipping his pitches. They seemed to believe it himself—and ended up pitching him half-a-year with a bad wing. Who knows if he will ever recover from that?

Now we see Ma Boone up there after every game, assuring us that Judge just missed one, or—he actually said this the other day—he hit a really good foul ball.

Uh-huh. How much of this is drinking our own, homemade Kool-Aid until Judge aggravates whatever is ailing him so badly that he does lasting, permanent damage to himself?

HoraceClarke66 said...

And Unknown, just for the record: there weren't too many "off years" for Derek Jeter.

There was 2010, when at 36 he first showed signs of mortality, and hit .270...with 30 doubles, 111 runs scored, and a Gold Glove.

He missed nearly all of 2013 with that ankle, and then, in 2014, at 40, he slumped to .256.

That was about it. Every other single, full year before that, he hit at least .291, with an OPS of at least .743.

An average, 162-game Jeter year, according to baseball reference, was 113 runs, 204 hits, 32 doubles, 15 homers, 77 ribbies, 21 stolen bases in 27 attempts, 64 walks, and .310/.377/.440/.817.

Seems like a pretty solid No. 2 hitter to me—particularly playing stimulant-free in a juice league.

Anonymous said...

I'M AFRAID THIS WHOLE SEASON CAME DOWN TO COOP'S INABILITY TO LAND THE PITCHER WE NEEDED....AND HE HAD MONTHS TO DO IT.

HAL IS GUILTY TOO.

....BUT IT'S MORE COOP'S FAULT....

HAL ISN'T INSIDE THE INNER WORKINGS OF ANY TRADE DEAL, AND I HAVE A FEELING COOP TOLD HAL NOT TO WORRY ABOUT SPENDING ANY MORE MONEY -( KEUCHEL), BECAUSE HE WILL BE ABLE TO GET THE PITCHER WE NEED IN A DEAL.

TILL THERE WAS NO DEAL.

WE ARE THE FUCKING OAKLAND A'S NOW.

LUKE VOIT, MIKE TAUCHMAN, GIO URSHELA, DAVID HALE, AND CAMERON MAYBIN ARE ALL WONDERFUL PIECES BROUGHT IN OFF THE BARGAIN BASEMENT BIN, OR BIT DEALS.

....BUT WHEN IT CAME TIME TO PUT OUR BEST FOOT FORWARD TO PUT US OVER THE TOP FOR A RING VIA CORBIN OR KEUCHEL, HAL AND COOP FUCKED IT UP....AND BAD.

NOW INCREDULOUSLY, WE HAVE TO WATCH THE METS RE-OWN NEW YORK, AT A TIME WHEN WE HAD JUST WON 9 IN A ROW!

MY FRIENDS, THESE ARE STRANGE DAYS INDEED.

THIS IS CRAZY TO SAY, BUT I ALMOST RATHER NOT MAKE THE PLAYOFFS AT ALL THAN KEEP MAKING IT, AND NEVER WINNING IT ALL...

LIKE THE OAKLAND A'S.

I'M TAKING MY ANGER ISSUES DOWN TO DEFCON 4.

NO ONE IS SAFE.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Right there with you, ALL-CAPS, in case anybody couldn't guess already.

The weird thing is, Coops always seems to regard pitching as some ancillary issue, like finding a good back-up catcher, or a a pinch-hitter.

It's not. It's the core of baseball, as the Mets are indeed demonstrating once again. Our Flushing brethren have taken a mediocre team, stoked up the pitching, and now have as good a chance as anyone in baseball to win it all.

I ALWAYS want to win, ALL-CAPS, and really, finishing first over a whole season is the greater accomplishment. And hey, if you can get in a short series, you never know what can happen.

But 9 times out of 10, the team with the better pitching is going to win that short series—a fact entirely lost on the people who run the New York Yankees.

13bit said...

I remember Coops constantly saying "Pitching is the key to the kingdom." Was I on crack? I have vivid, PTSD-style memories of him saying that.

HoraceClarke66 said...

He says a lot of things. He just don't DO them.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Parson Tom--but three days before this piece appeared, I had already noted this trend on my own in a comment in this blog. complete with links to his spray charts--which you no doubt saw. In fact, this writer may have seen my comments here and lifted my insights without attribution. Thanks for the non-acknowledgment, Parson Tom--you the arbiter of ethical discourse here.

JM said...

That was a big Yankees win. I don't care what anyone says.

Anonymous said...

Same to you, HC66--you saw my comments and documentation on this subject a couple of days ago because you commented on those comments. But you also fail to acknowledge that I scooped this article by two days. You and Parson Tom are dishonest creeps and no more qualified to sermonize about ethics here than Roy Cohn.

Anonymous said...

Here's the proof that I scooped Simon's piece by FOUR FULL DAYS in comments to this blog--as both HC66 (who responded to my comments) and Parson Tom (most probably) know full well but fail to acknowledge in their typically peevish and unethical manner:

Anonymous said...
There is something wrong with Judge. He looks lost at the plate. He is having trouble pulling the ball. Hardly any of his homeruns have been hit to left field---check the spray charts. These are symptoms similar to those that preceded his last stint on the IL.

August 6, 2019 at 1:56 AM
Anonymous said...
If you compare his 2017 spray charts to his 2019 spray charts, the difference is astonishing. Roughly half his homeruns in 2017 were pulled. Now none of them are. He can pull grounders and low line drives, but he cannot pull with power. There is definitely something wrong physically. If he's in pain, he should acknowledge it and put the team's interests ahead of his own.

August 6, 2019 at 3:00 AM
Blogger ranger_lp said...
Judge is still injured. He can't swing with full power because of it.

August 6, 2019 at 6:41 AM
Blogger HoraceClarke66 said...
Actually, I think Judge has NO home run to the opposite field this year.

Hmm, if only we had some good-hitting outfielder in the minors who could let him get a little rest before the postseason...

August 6, 2019 at 11:14 AM
Blogger HoraceClarke66 said...
Damned straight, Scotland! And as such, he's exactly the sort of player the Yankees and their Sabremetricious analysts always claim to want: even when he's not hitting for power, he's getting on base.

August 6, 2019 at 11:16 AM
Blogger Rufus T. Firefly said...
Judge has none pulled this year. A few to center.


He is definitely still hurt. Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine and Dr. Howard must work for the Yankees medical evaluation staff.

August 6, 2019 at 11:22 AM
Anonymous said...
HC66--No home runs to the opposite field? Some of your attempts at analysis are so daft that it's impossible to tell when you're joking and when you're attempting to be serious. Nearly ALL his homeruns are to the opposite field and a couple to center--and none to left. Here's the spray chart. Jeez, man--learn how to do some basic research.

https://www.fangraphs.com/spraycharts.aspx?playerid=15640&position=OF&type=battedball

Anonymous said...

So you figured out that no one cares about what you have to say?

HoraceClarke66 said...

It was indeed a big win. Another big hit from Gio—and thank goodness they gave Son of Vlad most of the day off.

Tanaka is a very smart pitcher. Maybe if he can continue to adjust...

Anonymous said...

Shut up, Sock Puppet Psyco-Anus. Just keep copying and pasting your deranged compulsive spews until the last dose of Thorazine fishes you off.

Anonymous said...

HC66--Why don't you just text Tanaka with your advice that he "adjust." That will ensure his future success, no doubt. Don't you have some kind of internal self-editing mechanism that kicks in before you hit the "publish comment" button?

Anonymous said...

Stat asshole is upset again or still. Can't figure out which

Anonymous said...

Sock Puppet Psycho Anus--no one can possibly be quite as insane as you without being institutionalized. I hope they heat up your gruel in the morning and change your underwear at least once a week.

Anonymous said...

Hey all--when The Confederacy of Dunces convenes at the Faux Yankee Stadium, if Warplist shows up, pay close attention to its hands and adam's apple. After all, he/she/it is a WOMAN, right?

Puckered's sample size said...

I’m Stat Boy!®™

I just got off of my shift at The Pizza Pit. Mommy had a sandwich waiting for me in my basement apartment and I ate it. Then I picked my zits and changed out of my cool orange and red uniform. After I attempted to sooth my onanism, I decided the world should know of the depth of my baseball knowledge. I insult everyone, but claim I’m the one being picked on. I’m Stat Boy!®™, and the world should pay for me being such a loser!
I’m Stat Boy!®™

I just got off of my shift at The Pizza Pit. Mommy had a sandwich waiting for me in my basement apartment and I ate it. Then I picked my zits and changed out of my cool orange and red uniform. After I attempted to sooth my onanism, I decided the world should know of the depth of my baseball knowledge. I insult everyone, but claim I’m the one being picked on. I’m Stat Boy!®™, and the world should pay for me being such a loser!
I’m Stat Boy!®™

I just got off of my shift at The Pizza Pit. Mommy had a sandwich waiting for me in my basement apartment and I ate it. Then I picked my zits and changed out of my cool orange and red uniform. After I attempted to sooth my onanism, I decided the world should know of the depth of my baseball knowledge. I insult everyone, but claim I’m the one being picked on. I’m Stat Boy!®™, and the world should pay for me being such a loser!
I’m Stat Boy!®™

I just got off of my shift at The Pizza Pit. Mommy had a sandwich waiting for me in my basement apartment and I ate it. Then I picked my zits and changed out of my cool orange and red uniform. After I attempted to sooth my onanism, I decided the world should know of the depth of my baseball knowledge. I insult everyone, but claim I’m the one being picked on. I’m Stat Boy!®™, and the world should pay for me being such a loser!
I’m Stat Boy!®™

I just got off of my shift at The Pizza Pit. Mommy had a sandwich waiting for me in my basement apartment and I ate it. Then I picked my zits and changed out of my cool orange and red uniform. After I attempted to sooth my onanism, I decided the world should know of the depth of my baseball knowledge. I insult everyone, but claim I’m the one being picked on. I’m Stat Boy!®™, and the world should pay for me being such a loser!
I’m Stat Boy!®™

I just got off of my shift at The Pizza Pit. Mommy had a sandwich waiting for me in my basement apartment and I ate it. Then I picked my zits and changed out of my cool orange and red uniform. After I attempted to sooth my onanism, I decided the world should know of the depth of my baseball knowledge. I insult everyone, but claim I’m the one being picked on. I’m Stat Boy!®™, and the world should pay for me being such a loser!
I’m Stat Boy!®™

I just got off of my shift at The Pizza Pit. Mommy had a sandwich waiting for me in my basement apartment and I ate it. Then I picked my zits and changed out of my cool orange and red uniform. After I attempted to sooth my onanism, I decided the world should know of the depth of my baseball knowledge. I insult everyone, but claim I’m the one being picked on. I’m Stat Boy!®™, and the world should pay for me being such a loser!
I’m Stat Boy!®™

I just got off of my shift at The Pizza Pit. Mommy had a sandwich waiting for me in my basement apartment and I ate it. Then I picked my zits and changed out of my cool orange and red uniform. After I attempted to sooth my onanism, I decided the world should know of the depth of my baseball knowledge. I insult everyone, but claim I’m the one being picked on. I’m Stat Boy!®™, and the world should pay for me being such a loser!
I’m Stat Boy!®™


All Stat Boy!®™ rights officially licensed through TWW Enterprises, LLC. Distributed through FYH Productions, LLC