The Yankees currently sit in fourth place in the American League East, nine games back of the division and five and a half games out of the second wild-card spot.
There is a ton of blame to go around.
The one person who does not deserve any of that blame is Aaron Judge.
Assuming Aaron Judge's June is complete, it'll go down as the 5th-worst month of his career, but also he's got a 125 wRC+ in June, because holy good lord is he good at this
— Mike Petriello (@mike_petriello) July 1, 2021
The most popular criticisms of Judge coming into the season were that he is injury-prone and strikes out too much. Two fair criticisms coming into this year.
We are 80 games into the season, and Judge has played 75 of them. He is on pace to play 151 games.
He has had rest days here and there when he’s sore, but he has not dealt with an injury; I would also guess that if Giancarlo Stanton was not locked into playing DH every day that Judge likely plays a couple of more games than he already has.
All rise! Aaron Judge goes DEEP to break this one open! #YANKSonYES
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) June 29, 2021
Now addressing the strikeouts. I will preface it by saying that a higher strikeout rate does not mean less production hence why Judge is still a far better hitter than DJ LeMahieu even though LeMahieu strikes out much less. But even acknowledging this, Judge currently has a career low strikeout rate at 26.3%.
This rarely gets brought up, and I will still hear fans say that he is easy to strike out by throwing a breaking ball down and away. Yet there will be no statistics to back that statement up. Even if this notion were true, it would be worth putting up with.
Aaron Judge has improved on every criticism that was thrown at him in the past. Yet somehow, Yankees Twitter freaks out every time he gets a rest day. Yesterday when he sat, fans were saying he was ducking out of facing Shohei Ohtani.
We have no idea what conversations took place, but we should not jump to conclusions and assume that Judge asked for a day off or did not want to play. Manager Aaron Boone declared that the season is on the line in these upcoming games. We are talking about a guy that played through a stress fracture in his rib during the 2019 postseason. Knowing how much these games mean to the Yankees, I would bet he wanted to be in the lineup.
The last criticism I have heard thrown Judge’s way is this notion that he can not lead. My simple response to this is no matter how good of a leader Judge is, that will not change Miguel Andujar or Clint Frazier’s defense; it will not make Bretty Gardner or Rougned Odor magically hit better, it will not make Domingo German or Jameson Taillon pitch better, and it will not prevent Aroldis Chapman from blowing any more saves.
Yankees fans have dreamed about a healthy season for Judge ever since 2017. We are getting it now, it is a shame that the team around him is not as capable as it used to be.
The Yankees struggles should not prevent fans from appreciating Aaron Judge’s talent that has him rightfully starting in the All-Star Game.
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