The Yankees are finally getting Aaron Judge at a rate comparable to his 2022 pace


KANSAS CITY, Mo. — In Game 68, Aaron Judge was rested.

For the first time this season, the energetic Yankees captain was out of the starting lineup as his team opened a series against the Royals at Kauffman Stadium.

Trent Grisham started in center field and Jahmai Jones started in right field on the night when Juan Soto served as DH.

Aaron Boone cited the late arrival – the team’s plane touched down around 3 a.m. – as well as the hardships of a long season that forced the manager to finally cast a superstar.

“Playing every day, you get a little tired this time of year, too,” Boone said of Judge. “I kind of wrote this (game) down.”

Aaron Judge will make his first appearance for the Yankees this season on Monday, June 10 against the Royals. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

If it seemed like Boone was putting a god on the bench, well, there was a reason for it.

No one in baseball this season, including the standouts Judge shared the field with this weekend, from Shohei Ohtani to Mookie Betts to Freddie Freeman and even Soto, has reached the level Judge recently achieved.

But Judge doesn’t just outshine many of this year’s best sluggers: he may be outdoing himself from two seasons ago.

The first two-plus months of Judge’s season were statistically stronger than the first two-plus months of Judge’s 2022 season with 62 homers.

“It feels like it’s 2022 again,” said Nestor Cortes, who watched both seasons closely.

Entering play on Monday, Judge had played in all 67 games and had a better OPS (1.139 vs. 1.026 at this point in 2022), batting average (.305 vs. .301) and RBIs (59 vs. 50). . than his record-breaking season.

Two years ago, in the Yankees’ first 67 games, Judge played in 65 games and hit one more home run (25) than he entered the game on Monday (24).

Only Judge has a pace of 58 homers, slightly shy of his personal best.

New York Yankees umpire Aaron #99 hits a solo hit during the eighth inning as the New York Yankees played the Los Angeles Dodgers on Sunday, June 9, 2024. Robert Sabo for the NY Post

“I would say it looks the same,” Cortes said of the 2022 and 2024 umpires. “It seems like we expect a home run after every at-bat, just like we did in 2022.”

Or at least on the periphery, there’s a Triple Crown on the line.

Judge entered the game leading the majors in homers, was second (behind Cleveland’s Jose Ramirez) in RBI and fourth in the AL in batting average, a statistic led by series opponent Bobby Witt Jr. (0.320).

For the second time in his career, Judge can better face the ghosts of the past than his contemporaries. Only this time, the 32-year-old will go head-to-head with a 30-year-old version of himself.

Everything about Judge’s numbers is impressive, but the way he once again stood out in discussions with baseball’s greatest players – going from cold to boiling in the blink of an eye – particularly stands out.

It was only a little over a month ago that people began to wonder what had happened to him.

In his first 33 games, Judge hit .197 with six goals scored and a .725 OPS. During this period, Soto took over and led the attack. Maybe it was spring training shortened by injury; perhaps Judge was the victim of extraordinary bad luck; maybe the judge just hasn’t found a stroke yet.

Whatever the reasoning, the next five weeks or so were extraordinary.

In 34 games since May 3, Judge has posted an inhuman 1.566 OPS, 18 home runs and a .540 on-base percentage. Judge entered last week’s game with a .500 batting line (10-for-20), three runs scored, 12 RBIs, a 1.200 slugging percentage and a .630 OBP in six games, earning his AL Player of the Week nod.

“Obviously, the game is out of this world,” Boone said. “Obviously I never liked him outside the squad. … But I feel like I need one day.

The judge, who is 32, is flirting again with the history he created at the age of 30.

He has to slow down at some point, right?

“He takes good care of his body and prepares very well,” Cortes said. “I don’t think he’s going to lower himself from what he’s been doing for a while.

“What he does is impressive and difficult to maintain. But if there’s one guy who can do it, it’s him.

Load more…

Copy the URL you want to share