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Yankees vs. Astros: Aaron Judge’s base running blunder, explained

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We need to talk about Aaron Judge’s base running mistake

MLB: ALCS-Houston Astros at New York Yankees Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees mounted an amazing comeback last night to steal a victory against the Houston Astros and tie the series at two games apiece. Aaron Judge led the offensive explosion when he broke the shutout in the seventh with a solo shot off starter Lance McCullers Jr. Things may have turned out well for him, but in the fourth inning, things kind of sucked.

He managed to get thrown out on the base path in what was probably the first ever double replay review in the playoffs. No one knew what was going on, so we needed two different replay reviews to settle things once and for all. It was confusing enough that I felt I needed to explain it to you all for some reason.

So first of all, if you somehow missed the game and didn’t actually see the play, I’m not sure what you were doing that was more important. Just watch the video at full speed because it’s pretty much impossible to tell what is happening. We’ll break things down for you once you’ve taken it all in.

This should look pretty simple at first look. Aaron Judge decides to make a turn around second on a shallow fly ball, watches it to the very last possible second, and can’t make it back to first in time. It’s far more complicated than that, though. The journey we all took together, from the play to the replay review, to the second replay review can be divided into chapters. Aaron Judge’s base running mishap was like a novel.

Chapter 1: Where are you going?

Aaron Judge

Conventional baseball wisdom suggests that on a shallow fly ball to the outfield, a runner on first should go about halfway to second base. Aaron Judge, here, instead may have been halfway to third. The only thing I can think of is that maybe he thought there were two outs and then realized too late that he is actually very wrong.

In the above picture, you can see the outfielder settling under the ball. He’s clearly pretty shallow in the outfield and still has a little ways to go before the ball comes down. This is the point where Aaron Judge should already be running back to first, or at least standing in between the bases.

Instead, he’s chilling on the wrong side of the bag, practically flatfooted, and not moving in the right direction. He still seems to think there’s a chance for this ball to drop or something. Judge might as well be tagging from second.

As you can see in the above image, by the time Judge rounds second base to go back to first, the right fielder has already caught the ball and is winding up to throw the ball. This is not where our big baseball boy should be, and he knows it. He just got caught with his toys still out when he should have already been in bed. It’s too late to save face and now all he can hope for is a little mercy.

At this point, Judge sees what’s happening in front of him, but he still has a long way to go before he’s safe in bed on first base. It seems nearly impossible that he can get anywhere near the bag in time.

Chapter 2: Crisis averted!

Aaron Judge

Somehow, despite the great distance between Aaron Judge and first base, he managed to chug his way back to first in front of the tag. While the umpire called him out initially, a replay review showed that he actually managed to get his foot in before Yuli Gurriel could apply the tag.

The image above shows you everything you need to know. His foot is on the base and the glove is still in the air. This should be the end of it.

Chapter 3: Do you know where your feet are?

Aaron Judge

Actually, I’m lying. The umpire called Judge safe at first base, but as it turns out, he was actually nowhere near second base when he doubled back. In baseball, when you pass a base, you need to touch the base again if you have to go back. Aaron Judge didn’t do that. That ump right there knows he didn’t do that because he’s looking right at him. The Astros soon knew it too.

How Houston then handled the situation made the whole thing even more confusing. They decided to appeal to second base, but they did it too soon. You can’t appeal to a base until the next batter was up. Now that everyone knew what the Astros were planning to do, the Yankees tried really hard to save face and keep the inning alive.

Aaron Judge

Instead of simply standing there and waiting to be called out when the Astros made the official appeal, Judge decided to try his luck by running directly into the fire and try to steal second. In real time, it looked like last thing you would want to do, but Joe Girardi actually beckoned him to run for it. It was the only thing he could do.

In the end, the ball reached Carlos Correa in plenty of time to nail Judge at second. That image shows there was an incredible amount of space between the tag and the actual base, but with all things considered, it was much closer than it should have been. All you can say now is good try, good effort.

Epilogue

This was New York’s fourth base running blunder of the postseason. The Yankees are still in it to this point, but they can’t keep doing things like this and not expect it to come back to haunt them in a big way. One of these days, something like this is actually going to cost them a game. Until then, let’s party because they won.