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Yankees At-Bat of the Week: Aaron Judge’s 61st (9/28)

Judge’s rocket tied Roger Maris after a phenomenal eight pitch at-bat.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

Number 61 has finally arrived. After a week of very little patience from baseball fans — yes, not just Yankees fans — Aaron Judge sent his 61st home run of the 2022 baseball season over the fence in the Rogers Centre. Judge had barely seen anything in the zone four a solid four days until this at-bat against Tim Mayza, and he made the southpaw pay.

Let’s jump right into it.

It wasn’t much of a shocker to get a first pitch out of the zone at this point. It’s felt like an automatic against No. 99 for a while now; 1-0 count.

One thing that I — and I’m sure many others — have considered is whether it’s worth it to Aaron Judge to maybe expand the zone every now and then to see if he can do damage on pitches on the edges every now and then. Depending on the situation, I’d say it’s certainly something to consider. In an advantage count with a runner on base? Yeah, that’s definitely a time to take a hack like this; 1-1 count.

Good work by Mayza on the pitch selection and location. If he expanded once, why not try again? If you see any sort of advantage in an at-bat against someone as skilled as Judge, you have to take it. Sadly for Toronto, Judge doesn’t expand all that much. Your best pitches just might not be good enough; 2-1 count.

That’s another aggressive hack from Judge. This has been one of the best things about Judge this season. His aggressive swings are calculated. No pitch is ever wasted. It may not be great to consistently foul pitches off because when it comes down to it, it’s a strike. However, in a count like this when you’re extremely confident, this is just a measuring test. Every swing like this is a step closer to a barrel. So the count moved to 2-2.

To this point, this was an extremely competitive at-bat. Mayza was consistently dotting on a corner that is just out of Judge’s ideal bat path. Against a lefty with a pitch moving low and away, the ball is on a plane which that just misses Judge’s barrel. Judge knows this, and it’s why he has been so patient with pitches in this zone. This one was just slightly off the plate, but Mayza really wanted it. Against Aaron Judge, I’d want every call.

Not so shockingly, Judge found himself in a 3-2 count for a sixth-straight at-bat. That’s bizarre, but valid given his performance of course.

This was a mistake. Danny Jansen wanted Mayza to keep peppering that low and away corner. This is an outcome where both pitcher and catcher breathe a sigh of relief. From the catcher’s perspective, this is a moment where you hold your breath in fear. In the next 3-2 count, Mayza could not afford another mistake. Judge doesn’t let multiple offerings go by in an at-bat without making the man on the mound pay.

I know this was another great location, but time and time again this year, I’ve said in our At-Bats of the Week that you simply cannot get away with spamming the same pitch in the same location against Judge in an at-bat. The only time I remember a pitcher getting away with this was in this series in at-bat against Yimi Garcia. He spammed sliders in great locations and got Judge to expand a few times. However, these were not low-90s sliders biting off the plate. These are low-to-mid-90s sinkers against a hitter who has dominated fastballs better than any player has in two decades. It was a risk to go back to it again.

I can’t fathom it. I think this is maybe the fourth of fifth at-bat of the week that came about because a pitcher decided to throw the same pitch in the same location over and over to Aaron Judge. You simply cannot afford to miss by a few inches. That’s enough to end up right in the middle of Judge’s barrel. I’m not sure why this is a strategy. Even if you don’t think another pitch is good enough to get him out, at least give it a try and throw the slider or changeup below the zone. This is pitch-calling incompetence 101; maybe they were just tired of Judge battling them and wanted to get No. 61 over with as well.

Anyways, I’m happy Mayza thought it would be a good idea to do this against Judge. He served the 61st home run on a silver platter and Judge did not disappoint. It’s been a privilege to cover Judge, and his at-bats, this season. Hopefully he has at least one left heading into the final six games of the season, but if he doesn’t, then I will leave you all with this:

Pay the man.