There has been an a lot of conversations over the past few days about two things surrounding reigning AL Rookie of the Year Aaron Judge. These conversations stem from his idea of being “One and done” in regards to the Homerun Derby and secondly the idea of Judge batting leadoff. So before we cover the other news notes and observations lets get into these topics regarding Aaron Judge.
So let’s tackle the first of the two issues head on, starting with the Homerun Derby. While Judge will never admit the derby had an impact on him it was clear that it did. The prolonged slump and subsequent off-season shoulder surgery for “Clean up” are evidence that the derby played some sort of role. Now unless Aaron comes clean about whether or not the initial injury was suffered as a result of the Homerun Derby or if it was just exacerbated by it we will never know.
So on to the second topic of conversation that has been flooding the Yankee Twitterverse is about Aaron Judge batting leadoff. This idea was first floated about by Buster Olney several months back during the frozen tundra that was the “Cold Stove” season of 2017-18. Then is was mocked a bit as a ridiculous idea to have a man who hit 52 homeruns in his rookie campaign batting leadoff. However, the idea now seems more like an actual possibility. While Judge does possess some of the attributes that one would consider in choosing a leadoff hitter. Attributes like his patience at the plate, his ability to hit the ball to all fields and the ability that has become more popular in recent years the ability to “Go Yard” early at set the opposing pitcher back first batter of the game. The Astros did this with George Springer who had 34 homeruns in 2017 most of which came from the leadoff spot. Now while Judge has those attributes and abilities it isn’t the best option for the team. Yes the leadoff spot will get more plate appearances over the course of the season but by the same token the lead off spot comes up less times with men on base. So for arguments sake let’s say that Judge bats leadoff and hits 50 homeruns leading off the game (hypothetical situation). That means 50 runs/rbis for him, but having him bat second instead of leading off and we place Brett Gardner on in front of him for those same 50 homeruns and now the total is 100 runs/rbis. Again this is a hypothetical situation but having someone on in front of Judge gives him a better opportunity to help the team win ball games.
Now on to the regularly scheduled news and notes.
While Yankee Manager Aaron Boone has said that both Judge and Stanton will get time in left field up until this point only Stanton has ventured out into left field. During the time that Stanton has played left he has had only a few opportunities to make a play and has struggled with the elements in sunny Florida. The high skies and winds make playing the outfield a challenge for anyone so anytime a ball is hit in his general direction a lot is being made of his defense in left field. Stanton caught his first ball in left field and in a playful nature raised his arms in a celebratory manner towards his teammate in center field Aaron Hicks. Stanton will have no problems in left field or right field he is a very capable outfield defender.
Aaron Boone has been very positive and can frequently be heard shouting encouragements to his players during the television broadcast. This type of open and outright support is different than what has been seen in the Bronx over the last decade. All reports coming out of Yankees came has been that Boone is incredibly supportive of his players and has a overall positive vibe. This bodes well for the young team that they have a manager that can relate to the struggles of a long season and can be consistent in his approach and demeanor with his players.
Just like in the first news notes and observations of the spring article Tyler Wade has been playing like a man possessed. At this point in the spring season it seems as if Tyler Wade may be the front runner for the Opening Day position at second base. Wade’s versatility should also help him remain with the team throughout the entire season as long as he keeps playing with this aggressiveness.
Another man who is inserting his name into the conversation for a opening day roster spot is Billy McKinney. McKinney is a dark horse for the backup first base job, not while it is very unlikely as McKinney who’s primarily an outfielder has only been playing first but a short time. Billy has a very good eye at the plate being able to work counts and lay off tough pitches bodes well for his potential call up during the season.
Among the first round of cuts the Yankees sent Justus Sheffield and Cale Coshow. More players should begin to be sent to the minor league camp following this weekend’s games against the Braves (Friday), Mets (Saturday) and Marlins (Sunday).
Clint Frazier (concussion) and Jacoby Ellsbury (oblique) have been dealing with injuries but are set to ramp up their work on Saturday. If all goes well look for them to begin more baseball activities early next week and get into game next weekend.