Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across Major League Baseball. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in New York Yankees fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
It’s been a rough go for the Yankees, and us fans, as of late. SB Nation reacts gave fans the opportunity to sound off on a number of topics, including the AL East standings, the Yankees’ ultimate fate, and Aaron Judge’s record chasing ways. Here’s how MLB fans think the division race will ultimately shape up:
Note: The image below is from a national poll, unlike the other two, which were primarily aimed at Yankees fans.
After a second consecutive loss to the Toronto Blue Jays on Saturday, the Yankees’ AL East lead is down to just eight games. Since July 9, the Yankees are a whopping 12-24, the worst 36-game stretch since 1995, and they’ve scored just 19 runs in their last 10 games. Things are starting to feel a little bit dire.
In spite of their horrendous play of late, however, the vast majority of fans are still confident that they will have the best record in the AL East when all is said and done. Thanks in part to the massive division lead they built for themselves early in the year, the Yankees still have a fairly sizeable gap between them and the second-place Toronto Blue Jays, all things considered, and that seems to have the majority of MLB fans confident that the Yanks will pull it together enough to still finish the season on top in the AL East. Still, though, if they don’t pick it up soon, that division lead might not matter.
The second question had to do with how MLB fans believe the Yankees’ season will end:
This is really a tale of two seasons. If losing the ALCS were the result after the first half of the season, this year would be considered nothing more than a failure. Now, after a brutal second half so far, an ALCS loss would still be a failure, but it’s honestly hard to see this team even getting there right now.
This poll was much closer than the previous one, though, and I think that points to the difficulty in understanding this team. It’s not every day that a team can look like world beaters in one half and like they’ve never stepped foot on a baseball field before in the second, yet here we are, struggling with that exact problem. And the poll results reflect that — losing in the ALCS and losing in the ALDS are almost on par with each other, while everyone’s ultimate goal — winning the World Series — still comes in at a respectable 17 percent. I think the Yankees of late have done a lot to convince a big portion of fans that they’re pretenders rather than legit contenders, but even despite their rough second half, it’s really hard to completely discount the team that got off to such a historic start.
The final question had to do with Aaron Judge, the only player capable of keeping a lot of fans tuning in to Yankees games, and his home run chase:
This one might not be that surprising. First of all, it’s really, really hard to hit 60 home runs. So hard, in fact, that only four players (for a total of eight times, including two 70-homer seasons) in the history of the game have done it. With 46 home runs in just 116 games, he needs 15 home runs to catch Maris and 16 to pass him in 42 remaining games. It is entirely possible that Judge becomes the fifth player to join that list, but he’s going to have to finish strong to do so.
In terms of the lack of confidence reflected in this poll, though, I think this speaks more to the Yankees’ recent slump than anything else. The entire offense around Judge has essentially been a zero as of late. With Giancarlo Stanton and Matt Carpenter on the shelf and the rest of the lineup providing very little offensively, he’s being pitched to much more cautiously. We had to figure this was bound to happen at some point this season — and, to be honest, we know he’s a talented enough hitter to adjust and make it work — but let’s hope the lineup starts clicking again so Judge can continue his pursuit of the home run record in earnest again.
And, of course, some of this has affected Judge. After a torrid start to the second half that saw him slash .393/.513/.951 with 10 home runs between July 21 and August 7, he’s found himself mired in a “slump” of his own recently, hitting .206/.426/.529 with three home runs in 11 games since August 8. Even in the midst of this “mini-slump” he’s still getting on base a ton, still slugging the hell out of the ball, and still capable of putting up a 173 wRC+, so it’s clear there’s more than his batting average is letting on here. Besides, Judge’s “slumps” haven’t exactly been long-lasting this season, so I think it’s fair to assume he’s going to turn it back on sooner rather than later.
With the Yankees playing such disappointing ball as of late, Judge’s home run record chase has become the main reason to watch this team on a nightly basis, and he’s certainly set himself up to make the finish very exciting.
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