clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Yankees At-Bat of the Week: Aaron Judge (5/15)

Judge was swatting home runs left and right in his return from the IL.

New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays Photo by Cole Burston/Getty Images

This is the first time I’m featuring Aaron Judge in the at-bat of the week this year. There really isn’t much to read into on it, but it is still surprising it’s taken this long. Some of it has to do with never being surprised by anything he does anymore, and the other part is because other players have been hitting quite well! Either way, it’s nice to take an opportunity to talk about one of the best hitters in the game.

It’d be easy to take any home run hit by Judge from the four this week, because they all either came in a pivotal moment or were an impressive at-bat. However, I’ve decided to feature his most recent one that followed Aaron Boone’s ejection. Let me know if you’ve heard me say this before, but in this at-bat, an average reliever and catcher thought it would be a good idea to throw Judge the same pitch over and over and over again. Spoiler alert: it did not work! It’s so silly to think this a viable strategy, but pitchers seem to do it over and over anyways. I know you already know the outcome, but let’s get into it.

Pitch 1 (0-0 count)

This is a fine 0-0 pitch, and probably one the best sliders Jay Jackson threw in the at-bat. Despite it being a semi-backed up slider, it still had enough hump to get a take from Judge and get ahead 0-1. From Judge’s perspective, he has to know Jackson could go back to the pitch right away.

Pitch 2 (0-1 count)

This one looked like a better location, but it was never a strike. Pitches that don’t even start as strikes are easy takes for Judge. Over the years, he has worked to improve on avoiding this pitch and recognizing it isn’t something he can do damage on. Jackson has made his strategy clear: throw sliders and try to get Judge to chase. I know I said it’s silly, but I’d expect it a third time if I was Judge.

Pitch 3 (1-1 count)

Another excellent take. It was even better than the first. This is the type of pitch that yields soft contact on the ground or a whiff. Unfortunately, the umpire was not doing his job and called a strike on a pitch half a foot under the zone. More embarrassingly, it wasn’t even a clean frame. I should probably mention this is the pitch that got Aaron Boone tossed and led to some fun. Now Judge had to battle in a 1-2 count, but the good thing is that he is on this slider.

Pitch 4 (1-2 count)

Not a good waste pitch from Jackson. This is a prime example of a pitcher intentionally staying out of the zone but going too far, not even yielding a competitive pitch. After this one, I would have expected Jackson to try and go up in the zone with a fastball. He has thrown the slider in four different locations and none yielded an ugly swing from Judge. If you’re paying attention to that, you’d know you should change up your looks.

Pitch 5 (2-2 count)

You can’t execute this pitch any better. Jackson started the slider in the zone and let it move off the plate to a perfect location to get a whiff, but Judge didn’t even flinch. He’s completely locked in. This reminded me of Bryce Harper’s take on a perfectly executed changeup from Robert Suárez in the 2022 NLCS. When a hitter takes a perfect pitch like this, you should be scared. They’re onto you, and if you give them a shot, you will pay.

Pitch 6 (3-2 count)

Ha! I’ve held the sarcasm so far, but I cannot resist adding a few jokes. The Blue Jays staff suggested Jackson was tipping pitches to Judge. I mean c’mon folks! Ya know what tips pitches? Throwing the same damn pitch over and over to a hitter who just set the league’s home run record! You simply just have to be better. There is no excuse to this lazy pitch calling — I don’t care what the score or situation was. Good hitters do not let you get away with this. Great hitters make you pay in the worst way possible. This one was for Judge himself and his manager who got tossed for ‘em.