This season has been filled with ups and downs for the Yankees. Yet, they still remain comfortably atop the AL East and are one of the best teams in baseball, if not the best when healthy. Through all those bumps in the road has come Aaron Judge’s recent slump. Of course, Judge’s slide doesn’t feel like much of an issue simply because it hasn’t received a ton of attention; winning is the best blinder for things like a star player going through a rut. Regardless, Judge has most definitely hit a rough patch of late.
On July 24, Judge’s average hit its peak for the season at .311; since then he has hit .188, including .182 in his last 15 games and .174 in his last seven. Judge’s swing and miss percentage has dramatically increased on fastballs and off-speed pitches in the month of August. For fastballs, that percentage has increased from 13.1% to 22.9%, and for off-speed pitches, it has increased from an already bad 55.3% to 71.4%. Judge has just missed the ball quite a bit recently.
The lack of worry, however, represents what Yankee fans know about Aaron Judge. Judge, over his first few years as a Yankee star, has shown multiple times that he can get out of a slump and adjust mid-season. He did it most notably in 2017 in the month that may have cost him that season’s AL MVP award. Coincidentally, it was the same month of August that Judge struggled in, when he batted .185 to decrease his batting average on the season from .303 to .279. But Judge bounced back in the month of September, batting .311 with 15 homers. The Yankees have 42 games left, which gives him more than enough time to evaluate and figure out how to get rid of this particular slump.
It obviously helps to have a 9.5-game lead in a division the Yankees are extremely likely to win. It also helps that, even if Judge is struggling, he knows almost everyone on the current 25-man roster can be called on at any moment and produce. That’s just the way the Yankees have managed in 2019. No matter who has put on the pinstripes they have stepped up, whether it be Mike Tauchman, Cameron Maybin, Mike Ford or Thairo Estrada. This most definitely takes lots of weight off of Judge’s shoulders.
With the exception of games against the Indians, Dodgers, and maybe the Red Sox, there aren’t many pressure-packed games left on the Yankees schedule. Though they don’t play many tough opponents, every game still carries at least some importance as they’re playing for home-field advantage in the playoffs. Yankee Stadium can be a challenging place to play as a visitor when it gets going, and in a five or seven-game series, the Yankees will want any advantage they can get.
Judge has time to get things together, and perhaps this slump will be as well-timed as that August 2017 one. He bounced back that year to rake in September and hit four home runs in October. Still, it’s important that he gets out of this slump in order to help the team string together as many wins as possible before the season ends and get set for the postseason.