The Yankees delivered an exciting update yesterday when the team announced that Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton would head to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to continue their rehabs. Stanton has already appeared in games for High-A Tampa, mashing plenty of dingers along the way. Judge will soon follow, and given how guarded the Yanks have been with his recovery, good news means very good news.
First, let’s address the obvious. Getting Stanton and Judge back into the lineup is an obvious boost in terms of run production. After posting a 149 wRC+ last year, Judge looked right on par with that again before suffering an oblique injury, holding a 145 wRC+ through 89 plate appearances. Stanton went down early into the season with a biceps strain, but he put up a 127 wRC+ last year, and by all accounts felt more comfortable having experienced a full season in his new surroundings.
With the current state of the Yankees’ starting rotation—they have a 5.64 ERA over the last 18 games—having Judge and Stanton back should help a beleaguered pitching staff with some run support. It should also help the lineup in terms of the bats they will replace.
Brett Gardner clearly needs a rest, and a long one at that. After falling off hard in the second half of last season, injuries have forced Aaron Boone’s hand in playing Gardner more often than he should be, and it’s showed. After posting a 107 wRC+ in May, Gardner’s June mark has plummeted to 47. He played both games of a doubleheader against the Mets earlier this week, which shows you how badly he’s been needed with all the injuries this season. Not only will the return of Judge and Stanton bring back a couple of elite bats, but they will also eliminate a dragging one in Gardner.
When the two Big Baseball Boys return, it’s likely that both will get significant time in the DH spot as they’re eased back into playing every day. Well, considering the DH spot has been used by Kendrys Morales (now on the IL with a calf strain) and his 64 wRC+, that’s a huge win for Boone and the Yankees. The team has stuck with Morales for inexplicable reasons, but having Judge and Stanton back will hopefully mean Morales’ exit. Farewell to a plethora of hard-hit groundballs.
Morales’ injury has also seen the return of Mike Tauchman, who wasn’t exactly productive in his stint with the Yanks while Judge, Stanton, Aaron Hicks and Clint Frazier were all on the shelf. Tauchman’s 91 wRC+ during his initial stretch in the Bronx wasn’t terrible, but again, Stanton and Judge provides a massive upgrade.
There’s also the added bonus in the field. Clint Frazier has been better at the plate as he’s settled back in after an ankle injury, but his performance in the field has been a completely different story. Most defensive metrics put Frazier at the bottom of the league, and the eye test has matched those numbers. Meanwhile, Judge posted a DRS of 14 in 2018, and four in 2019. He’s an above-average fielder with a great arm, and should help prevent runs in the outfield while creating plenty more at the plate.
Again, having Judge and Stanton back immediately makes the Yankees a better team. But when you consider who they’ll be replacing when they return, it should make fans even more excited for their arrival.