Aaron Judge Is Showing That the Yankees Are Still His Team

The hottest hitter in baseball is proving why the Yankees will always be his ball club.

Aaron Judge of the New York Yankees celebrates his solo home run in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Yankee Stadium.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 22: Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees celebrates his solo home run in the fifth inning against the Cleveland Guardians at Yankee Stadium on April 22, 2022 in the Bronx borough of New York City. (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)

Following a slow start to the season, many baseball fans debated if New York Yankees captain Aaron Judge was slipping into Juan Soto‘s shadow.

Fast forward to the end of May and Judge has put that slow start behind him – very far behind him. The Yankee slugger is enjoying a historic stretch, as he recently became the first player in MLB history to record 12-plus doubles and 11-plus home runs in a 20-game span.

His current run has both players and fans in awe. Fellow New York outfielder Alex Verdugo said, “That’s my season,” when talking about Judge’s numbers during his current 20-game stretch.

Verdugo also added, “He’s a captain for a reason. He got paid what he did [$360 million over nine years] for a reason. He’s just somebody that goes about everything that he does the right way. Guys love him, whether you’re on his team, on the opposing team, you just love this guy.”

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In May, Judge is hitting .376/.495/.906 with 21 RBIs and 77 total bases. His mind-blowing month has helped him raise his full-season average from .207 to .279, and he currently leads the league in XBH (35), OPS (1.039), and slugging percentage (.629), while ranking second in home runs (17) and walks (43).

Following his historic bounce back to form, Judge is now posting numbers eerily similar to those from his 2022 campaign, in which he set a new AL record with 62 home runs.

Through 56 games in 2022, Judge’s wRC+ sat at 192. Through the same number of games this season, Judge is posting a 186 wRC+. Additionally, through the end of May 2022, Judge had 18 home runs; he currently sits at 17 with three games left to play in the month.

His slow start over the first few weeks of the season has quickly become a thing of the past. And with their leader surging, the Yankees are scorching hot. New York is 11-4 in its last 15 games and currently holds a 1.5-game lead over the Orioles in the AL East. The Bronx Bombers are half a game behind the Guardians for the best record in the American League.

It took a little longer than expected, but Yankees fans are now witnessing the modern-day “Murderer’s Row” in the Bronx. The trio of Judge, Soto, and Giancarlo Stanton has combined for 45 home runs – more than three MLB teams have hit this season.

You could say that Judge is currently on a “hot streak,” but at the same time, I think we’re finally just seeing the high-level kind of player Judge really is. His rough stretch to start the season seems to have been the anomaly, and his current production is more like Judge as we’re used to seeing him.

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Looking at Judge’s Baseball Savant page, you’d think there was no way that just a month ago he was severely struggling:

via Baseball Savant

Judge opened the season batting just .182 through the first 17 games, his lowest batting average through that many games to start a season since he first broke into the majors full-time in 2017.

His 27 strikeouts through his first 21 games were the second most in the American League. We all know Judge has stretches where he strikes out a lot, but they don’t usually come with such little production.

Through the end of April, Judge had only hit six home runs on the season. In the month of May, he has hit nearly twice as many, smashing 11 home runs. In addition, his OPS went from an underwhelming .811 (by his standards) to a league-leading 1.029; he has posted a ridiculous 1.401 OPS in May.

The other superstar outfielder for the Yankees, Juan Soto, hit the ground running in his first month in pinstripes. With Judge struggling, many fans saw the spotlight shift from Judge to Soto while the Yankee captain was receiving boos from the crowd in the Bronx.

It seemed like a changing of the guard might be imminent early in the season, but Judge has since silenced any doubt that the Yankees are his team. It shows on the field, in the locker room, and in the seats that Aaron Judge is still, and will continue to be, the leader of this team.

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Despite his slow start, Judge’s historic month of May has propelled him past Soto – and most of the league – in terms of production and fandom this season. Positioned right back in the MVP conversation, Judge will look to keep surging so the Yankees can continue to be the most feared team in baseball.