It would have been unfair for those around Major League Baseball to expect Aaron Judge to replicate the numbers he put up during his historic 2017 American League Rookie of the Year campaign.
He set an MLB record with 52 home runs by a first-year player, leading the AL, while driving in 114 runs and batting .284.
The year didn’t come without some concerns though. As pitchers began learning how to pitch to the 6-foot-7 juggernaut, Judge’s numbers slumped mightily during the second half of the year.
After batting .329 with 30 home runs and 66 RBI in the first 84 games of the season, Judge batted just .228 with 99 strikeouts in his final 71 appearances. Strikeouts have always been a problem, especially when pitchers began catching on that he had problems hitting the ball low and away.
With that in mind, it would have been understandable for Judge to start a bit slower compared to last season.
The thing is, Judge has been one of the Yankees’ best hitters during an inconsistent start to the season. He leads the team in batting average and on-base percentage while ranking second in home runs, RBI and slugging percentage, all behind the red-hot Didi Gregorius.
And while there is going to be plenty of focus set upon Giancarlo Stanton, whose debut in the Bronx has been less than auspicious, to say the least, Judge is proving early on that 2017 wasn’t just a flash in the pan. It might have just been the start.
Take a look.
Aaron Judge stats through first 15 games of season
-58 plate appearances, 52 at-bats
-14-for-52 (.269 BA)
-.345 on-base percentage
-.516 slugging percentage
-5 home runs
-71 plate appearances, 57 at-bats
-20-for-57 (.351 BA)
-.479 on-base percentage
-.614 slugging percentage
-4 home runs
There is a noticeable discrepancy in Judge’s stats, except for strikeouts. His plate discipline isn’t much improved compared to last year, but his ability to cover the zone is.
Swinging at pitches outside of the zone, Judge made contact 44.8-percent of the time last year. This year he’s seen a 7.3-percent increase, which has helped him work the count into more favorable positions, drawing more than double the walks he had this time last year while his average and on-base percentage skyrocket.