Aaron Judge HR record: How Yankees star game in four walks vs. Blue Jays show they’re not “pushing” in pursuit of Roger Maris
It’s been seven games since Aaron Judge hit his 60th homer against Pitt’s Judge’s longest homerless streak from Aug. 13 to Aug. 21 (nine games) and tied for the second-longest hitting streak of the year.
While that’s more a testament to the blistering home run rate Judge has hit this season than an indictment of his recent play, it’s hard not to feel the tension as the end of the season nears. The Yankees clinched the AL East with their win over the Blue Jays Tuesday, but that seemed like a footnote compared to Judge’s night: A four-walk game, the second time in his career he’s drawn that many and the first since September. 4, 2017, against the Orioles.
Pittsburgh Pirates, but it feels like forever in the baseball world.
Judge went to full counts in all five of his plate appearances, the first of which culminated in a Matt Chapman line drive that fell off the bat at 96.8 mph Aaron Judge HR record .
Aaron Judge’s stats since the last home run
If we were to just look at Judge’s batting average, it would be perfectly reasonable to think he’s pushing, just trying to hit No. 61, tie Roger Maris and restart the No. 62 circus. But his numbers tell a completely different story.
After his 0-for-1 night on Tuesday, Judge is batting .263 since his last home run. But his slash provides important context. His extended stats are .263/.548/.421. By comparison, his full-year stats are .314/.422/.695.
So Judge’s slumping stats (we’re talking about a home drought, after all). But the connotation behind pressing is that he’s expanding his zone to hit that home run. And that’s just not the case.
Judge’s walk rate since his last home run is now 39 percent (12 walks in 31 plate appearances), a far cry from his 16 percent this season.
But that’s only half the story. His strikeout rate is 26 percent, just shy of his 25 percent K-rate on the season.
But those stats don’t paint a picture of a player who pushes. The judge is rather patient as always. But a combination of pitchers being extremely cautious and Judge keeping his strike zone the same led to this “drought.”
Is Aaron Judge trying to hit home run #61?
the National League scout believes the umpire is forcing the issue.
“He’s definitely pushing it,” a scout said Sunday, according to Heyman. “Having all his friends and family here puts a lot of pressure on him. It a heavy-duty but I’m sure he’s happy to be in it. He’ll get it if he doesn’t push or try so hard.”
With all due respect to the scout, Judge doesn’t seem to be doing that at all. If anything, it is rather remarkable how much patience he has shown. As Judge continues to chase history, he showed frustration with himself when he chased a pitch out of the zone in his last at-bat and fouled it out Tuesday. He’s as patient as ever, and his offensive zone is quite possibly the best in the league right now.
While bright lights and constant stares are undoubtedly distracting, Judge doesn’t appear distracted.
Are pitchers pitching around Aaron Judge?
This is a more challenging question to answer because they are probably not conscious.
The judge intentionally walked once in that time frame, but it made strategic sense. The Blue Jays walked Judge to load the bases with two outs to face Anthony Rizzo. They didn’t want the judge to beat them. It is reasonable.
Judge was diplomatic when talking about that intentional walk after the game, saying, “I trust every single guy in our lineup and every single guy on our bench … I’m going to show up tomorrow and do it,” according to the YES Network.
But a batsman does not pick up this walk rate without the bowlers pitching him very carefully. Blue Jays’ Kevin Gausman specifically said he “doesn’t want to be the answer to a trivia question,” according to Mitch Bannon. This mindset must influence the way a pitcher approaches the at-bat.
The Red Sox said they would attack Judge in their series, with Rich Hill being particularly adamant that the record meant nothing.
“You go out there, you make a pitch and you attack the hitter the same way you attack at the beginning of the season,” Hill told the New York Post. While Hill proved that, striking out Judge twice, Michael Wacha and John Schreiber were much more conservative the night before, walking Judge three times and giving him six strikeouts on 19 pitches in his first four at-bats.
With the AL East now tied, the Yankees have eight games left in the season. The umpire will get more opportunities, but there may be fewer and further between his approaches and those of the bowlers. Maybe with the division solidified and the Yankees settled on the No. 2 spot, Judge will start swinging a little more freely. But he’s more likely to maintain his meticulous approach at the plate.